Recent News

 Navajo Cancer Symposium: A Student Perspective

Jackie B. NN Symposium
Student Intern Jackie Brown


My experience at the Navajo Cancer Symposium was positive. I learned that there could be a lot of disconnect between western medicine and the views of American Indians and how to treat illness, especially cancer. Spirituality was mentioned frequently throughout the Navajo Cancer Symposium. It was nice to be able to hear the commonalities of paying homage to ancestors in the Navajo culture and being able to compare them to my own (African American). This symposium was beneficial to those that have recently lost a loved one or is acting as a caregiver to a loved one with cancer. The panel speakers were able to speak on their experiences of what it was like having to tell an elder (often times mom or dad) that they had cancer, sometimes not telling elders that they were taking chemotherapy treatments, and being provided hospice care that catered to cultural views (often times not).

Through the Navajo Cancer Symposium I learned that there is not a lot of support for those that may live in rural areas of the Navajo Reservation. Cancer can be a financial burden to anyone that may be experiencing it, especially to those where resources are sparse and cultural views can sometimes prevent people from receiving treatment.  I also learned that the jurisdiction of the State and Navajo Nation can become blurred, people needing treatment can fall in between Arizona and Navajo lines, making it unclear as to which party is responsible for treatment resources. I felt that some of the doctors that spoke at the symposium presented heavily on medications and did not speak on their experiences on working with American Indian people and steps they have taken to be more accommodating to cultural views. I was able to learn about the physiological effects of medications like Morphine and what to do to help ease the discomfort sometimes associated with taking it.

Attending this symposium was validation for me to continue with my goals of becoming a public health worker. I learned that it is important to know the population that I may be working with in the future and to also get to know the politics behind health and health decisions made. This symposium has sparked my interest in health policy and what I can do to help people get the resources that they need, in order to be able to make important decisions with confidence. 


New Investigator Projects

Resilience & Culture Through Sport

Alisse Ali-Joseph

June 10, 2015

Halito, my name is Alisse Ali-Joseph and I am a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.  I joined the Applied Indigenous Studies Department at Northern Arizona University in 2013 and specialize in the importance of sports and physical activity as a vehicle for empowerment, cultural identity, health, resilience and educational attainment for American Indian people. I also focus on American Indian health and wellness and American Indian education. 

I grew up playing multiple sports and was fortunate enough to earn a college degree while playing collegiate tennis.  Therefore, sport not only provided me with the ability to remain physically active and healthy, but also encouraged me to continue my education. I believe that sport is a tool to empower not only individuals, but also entire communities.  For American Indian people, sports are vibrant and inclusive social activities with cultural meanings that strengthen Indigenous communities.  The lessons that athletics can teach: resilience, preparation, competitiveness, overcoming obstacles, persistence, mental and physical health, problem solving, and setting life goals—are particularly apt for American Indian youth today.


Karmen breaks free from the pack!

The act of playing sports fosters:  self-discipline, self-efficacy, teamwork, confidence, work ethic, leadership, and resiliency within the participants. For example, running has long been a key spiritual element of American Indian culture—one through which individuals can demonstrate strength and resilience, create a space for their own agency, growth and self-awareness. Through resilience, one may make a difference for future generations.

 I want to help youth see the benefits of sport, therefore, a goal of mine has been to host a youth sport day at Northern Arizona University. I was fortunate enough to partner with the Native American Community Action (NACA) Pathways Program, a substance abuse prevention program tailored for at-risk Native American youth in the Flagstaff, Arizona community. NACA’s Pathway Program provides information and education on developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles to enrolled youth and their families.  On April 25th we hosted Resilience & Culture through Sport day in conjunction with the Northern Arizona Spring Football game on the NAU campus.

 Resilience and Culture through Sport was a day-long program to promote health and culture, and focused on how sport fosters resilience. The purpose was to provide American Indian youth the opportunity to participate in sport as a cultural strength, as well as engage with Native American collegiate athletes, coaches and students.  We had 30 youth from fourth grade to high school participate.  A highlight from Resilience and Culture through Sport, was a talk by NAU football head coach Jerome Souers.  Coach Souers is the only Native American Division I football coach in the NCAA.  Additional highlights include participating in a tennis clinic hosted by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), running with Hopi High School cross country coach and former NAU All-American Juwan Nuvayokva, watching the Spring Football game, and meeting the NAU men’s basketball team.

Coach Souers
Coach Souers is a member of the Lakota Nation and Cheyenne River Tribe

Since sport has long provided a means for people to exercise sovereignty, identity and balance, both individually and collectively, this program served as a platform upon which participants exercise resilience. Our hope is to instill the passion for sport by introducing American Indian youth to the power of movement. By exposing youth to a college campus, introducing them to Native American role models and allowing a safe space to exert energy, our goal is to ignite a spark that will guide American Indian youth to set goals and reach their dreams. We believe that sport has the potential to raise a generation of leaders.



Hopi Disability Conference 

Disability Conference Group Page
L-R Madeline, Aaron, Kellen, Desiree, Kwaayesnom, Shawn, Bucky and Darold.
Darold Joseph


My name is Darold H. Joseph I am Coyote Clan from the Hopi village of Moenkopi and I am a doctoral candidate in the Disability and Psychoeducational Studies department at the University of Arizona. I currently serve as Research Assistant with the Center for American Indian Resilience and a Lecturer, with the Applied Indigenous Studies Department both at Northern Arizona University.  My experience includes serving persons with developmental disabilities in urban areas, as a special education teacher, and as a special education administrator in a rural junior high and high school serving American Indian students.

Desiree Shawn
L-R Desiree Cody and Shawn Namoki editing Shawn’s story.

Through these experiences I learned about the various barriers and challenges individuals with disabilities and their families face when trying to improve their quality of lives. Some of these challenges include, combating the negative stereotypes and generalizations our society constructs about people with disabilities; coping with the process of acceptance, loss, denial, diagnoses; and parents learning how to cope and manage having a child with a disability.  I also saw individuals and their families struggling with policies and laws that were meant to be accommodating but instead contradicted individual rights to equity and fairness. Each of these issues effect the opportunity to attain higher standards of living including: independent living, higher education and employment. Within these experiences there are many unheard stories. 

Hongvi Preston
L-R Aaron Preston, Bucky Preston and Darold Joseph planning their story.

However challenging, I have also witnessed the ability of people with disabilities to practice resilience. In March 2015, I facilitated a digital story training workshop in collaboration with the Hopi Health and Human Services Department and the Office of Hopi Special Needs. The purpose of this workshop was to support individuals with disabilities create and tell their stories of resilience. The following are the personal stories of resilience of four amazing individuals with disabilities and their families who at times have struggled but found the resilience to continue on.  Our hope is that their stories will speak to a broad audience to educate our society about the assets these individuals possess that included the intersection of culture, community, education, disability, and identity. 

Kellen Erica
L-R Kellen Polingyumptwa and Erica Kalliestewa recording flute music for Kellen’s story.
Madeline Sahneyah sharing her daughter Ivy’s story of what it’s like to grow up deaf in a hearing world.

Click on the title to view the Digital Stories:

  1. My Invisible Life

         Kellen Polingyumptewa, Hopi Community Health Representative

  1. Hongvi’s Story  

         Aaron Preston, KUYI radio announcer and Bucky Preston, Father 

  1. Welcome to My World  

         Ivy Sahneyah, Student, Galladet University and Madeline Sahneyah, Mother

  1. “Hak Navasngwu, Kush Hintak Katsi” (Take Good Care of Yourself, You Don’t KnowWhat’s Going to Happen)

         Shawn Namoki Sr., Mentor, Hopi Substance Abuse Prevention Center Team 

*Darold and his panel have been asked to present at the American Indian Disabilities Summit in Phoenix, AZ March 2016

Digital stories were supported by the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number P20MD006872. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health



March 31, 2015


Career Development Opportunity in the Fields of American Indian

Public Health and Resilience

The Center for American Indian Resilience (CAIR) is an Exploratory Center of Excellence supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIH-NIMHD) and co-administered by Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona and Dinè College.  CAIR is pleased to announce an opportunity for tribal and academic partners to explore the role of resilience in contributing to positive health outcomes in American Indian (AI) communities.  The tribal partner must work for a tribe, native lead non-profit organization or urban Indian center.  The academic partner must be affiliated with a US based college or university as a graduate student, postdoctoral student, appointed personnel or faculty.

CAIR will select and support a cohort of partnerships for 1-2 years. These partnerships will engage in mentored personal career development as well as educational activities that will contribute to the national and local public health education associations, agencies and funding institutes that set policy and support activities that influence American Indian health.  

Career Development: Partners are expected to: 1) design an independent community-based proposal for a project (such as a community intervention, manuscript of past collaborative efforts or planning activities to prepare for a grant application) that incorporates resilience and/or resilience promoting strategies in health promotion; 2) work collaboratively with CAIR faculty to conceptualize and apply concepts of resilience in health; and 3) develop and adhere to a goals and milestone schedule that yields a tangible outcome that is meaningful to both the community and university. CAIR will provide mentoring both face-to-face and via conference calls, and an annual required workshop that will include: project planning, familiarity with external finding opportunities, application of mixed methods, strategies for collaborative grant writing, successful approaches to co-project administration, tribal approval procedures for activities engaging university partners, and ethics related to research, evaluation and results dissemination with American Indian communities.

Level of Support

  • $5000-$10,000/yr stipend to the partnership; the partnership can determine how the funds will be awarded among partners.  Funds must be expended on community-based projects, not on research activities. With satisfactory progress each year, the stipend can extend for a total of two years.
  • Travel support (mileage or airfare, lodging and per diem) for a round trip from academic home to Flagstaff, AZ for the workshop.


  • Tribal partner must have a minimum of 5 years of experience working in health with American Indian communities.
  • Academic partner must have a minimum of a 4 year undergraduate degree in a relevant field or a minimum of 5 years of experience working in American Indian health. 
  • Availability to attend annual 1.5 day meeting.  In 2015, the annual meeting is planned for August 10-11, 2015 in Flagstaff, AZ.  Partners must be available to attend.

 Application Process:

  • Partnerships should submit one document that provides the following for each partner:
  • demographic information
  • background and skills
  • reference contact information; if the applicants advances to the second phase of review, references will be contact for a verbal or email recommendation
  • Two page concept paper of proposal or manuscript idea incorporating resilience; components to include are:
  • statement of problem and need for support
  • method(s)
  • expected outcome/deliverables
  • timeline for deliverables
  • Budget identifying how funds will be expended; indirect costs are not allowed.
  • Current CV, resume or bio-sketch of lead partner from each institution

 Deadline:  May 8, 2015; Awards will be announced by May 29, 2015

For more information, contact:  Anna Schwartz PhD Co-Director of Research, Center for American Indian Resilience, Northern Arizona University at or Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone, PhD, Co-Director of Research, Center for American Indian Resilience, University of Arizona at

Submit applications to: Tara Chico, MPH  at

News Articles 

Navajo Nation Vice President encouraged by Navajo Medicaid Feasibility Report

Read the article and report here.

Has:san Preparatory Student News

April 7, 2014 Ha:san High: Preparing Native Students for College and Life
January 28, 2014 Ha:san Preparatory Students Focus on College-Bound Future

Annual Meeting of the CAIR

Announcing the 1st Annual CAIR Conference

We are proud to announce the dates for the CAIR "Sharing our strengths and stories of resilience" Conference! It will be held in Tucson, AZ at the Desert Diamond Casino from August 7-9th, 2013. 

To register, you must submit a registration form by July 26th. Student poster presentation submissions are highly encouraged!

For more information contact Addie June-Tsosie at or visit the website.

CAIR Conference Announcement
1st Annual CAIR Resilience Conference Announcement