Research for Indigenous Community Health Center Summit

The Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) center held its annual summit in September.

Nearly 160 people attended “Food, Medicine and Other Traditional Sources of Healing” at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Minneapolis. Attendees included tribal health care practitioners, community members, academic health researchers and more.

The summit featured internationally renowned speakers in food and traditional medicines and workshops focusing on building tribal/ Indigenous capacities to increase food medicines and healthy eating. The event also included presentations by Indigenous chefs, a community garden panel and discussion of current Indigenous research projects seeking to improve community level wellness and prevention of disease.

“Historically, Indigenous peoples have acknowledged the nutritional and medicinal value of food through a shared relationship with creation to promote wellness and balance. Beyond prevention of disease and promotion of wellness within communities, food in itself has a central role within Indigenous life ways and traditions carrying a spiritual significance for many communities,” said Derek Jennings, assistant professor and director of community outreach for RICH. “This summit brought people together to learn how we can return to our roots of wellness and balance by revisiting foods and other medicines for healing, and to celebrate the innovative ways in which communities are researching traditional food and medicine in order to increase access for health and social justice.”

One summit attendee said, “Great conference, great presenters. We learned a lot. Nya weh’ (thank you) to the U of MN.”

The RICH center is a collaboration with the College of Pharmacy and Medical School, Duluth. RICH aims to provide an interdisciplinary center for research collaborations with Indigenous entities, and to foster scholarly works that will identify health barriers and protective factors to increase healthcare equity for Indigenous patients.