Native American Chamber Honors OHSU

The Oregon Native American Chamber (ONAC) recently honored OHSU with the "Warrior of the Year" award, recognizing a business organization that has made significant business contributions to the Native American community.

OHSU has been a long-time partner of ONAC, which provides college scholarships, supports small businesses, and develops Native American civic, educational and economic opportunities in the region.

To support Native American students who want to pursue undergraduate degrees, OHSU funded scholarship grants in partnership with the Oregon Native American Chamber.

The Chamber hosts Native leaders from various industries to develop management skills and foster networking with community leaders. Over the years, OHSU employees [Michael Tom, Bianca Kednay, Kara McFall (Choctaw of Oklahoma)] have taken part in offering technical assistance, to serve as ONAC Board and Advisory Members, to lend community partnership support, and to continue sponsorship of ONAC activities as it strives to promote and support the education, training and cultural understanding of Native Americans.

Every year, OHSU Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Affirmative Action/Employment Equal Opportunity, and other OHSU Departments participate in the Native Chamber's monthly luncheons, annual gathering, and shares information about ONAC as it brings together entrepreneurs, small business owners, employers and job seekers for hopeful contracting and employment opportunities.

OHSU has a Native American Employee Resource Group (ERG) for American Indian/Alaska Native students, faculty, staff and its advocates. The group provides social support, networking events and mentoring opportunities to foster a supportive environment for OHSU's Native community.Tribes represented among the diverse OHSU community include: Cherokee; Ute; Lakota (Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock Sioux); Navajo; St. Sault Marie Chippewa; Choctaw; Nipmuc; Klamath; Alaska Native; Grand Ronde and Seneca.

In addition to providing support for the Oregon Native Chamber, OHSU makes a difference in the Native community through educating the next generation of health professionals, conducting research to alleviate health disparities, and serving the community through health and wellness education.


  • Cultural Competency lectures, hosted by the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, have focused on helping health professionals identify and address specific cultural, health, education, research and public policy barriers for Native Americans and other communities of color to gain a better understanding for cultural sensitivity and awareness of unique issues of the tribal population.
  • For nearly a decade, American Indian/Alaska Native health professionals from all over Indian Country have participated in a Summer Research Institute coordinated by OHSU's Prevention Research Center in partnership with the Northwest Portland Indian Health Board that has been growing each and every year.OHSU Public Health and Preventative Medicine Department Faculty: Tom Becker MD, PhD,William Lambert PhD, Dennis McCarty PhD, Traci Reickmann PhD, Patricia Silk Walker RN, PhD (Cherokee of Oklahoma) to name a few, are demonstrating key partnerships and collaborative in Indian country. A three-week Summer Research Training Institute for American Indian/Alaska Native designed to meet the needs of professionals who work in diverse areas of Indian health emphasizing research skills, program design, and implementation which benefits new skill building opportunity broadly. It is a key program with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, a 2013 recipient of an OHSU Diversity Award recognized as "Community Partner of the Year."The 2013 Summer Institute had over 70 participants and this next year's Institute will take place in June-July 2014.


  • The One Sky Center, a National Resource Center in substance abuse and mental health services, has been offering technical assistance to the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon, the Native American Rehabilitation Association,and the State of Oregon as a part of a Tribal Best Practices Working Group in the areas of developing and documenting culture-based initiatives, such as the canoe journey, that are best practice efforts for the prevention, intervention, and treatment in behavioral health for Native Americans.
  • OHSU hosted the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) Student Members from across the Western region during the 40th Annual Meeting, as Portland hosted a meeting of the AAIP for the first time. Almost 30 medical and pre-med students from Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, California and Oregon gathered at OHSU for the weeklong conference.R. Dale Walker, M.D. (Cherokee of Oklahoma), OHSU Faculty in Psychiatry, served as President of the AAIP coordinating the event, and also was recognized as "Indian Physician of the Year" by the AAIP. This year, OHSU was represented at the annual meeting and recruited students and faculty.


  • Research conducted by William "Billy" Martin PhD, and Deanna Meinke PhD, served as a catalyst to develop the Dangerous Decibels program.Its mission is to significantly reduce the prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ear) through exhibits, education, and research.This program has done outreach, education, and awareness on and off the reservations in Oregon which has been quite popular with the native community.
  • Research conducted by David Gonzales Ph.D. (Ute) and his team have been researching pharmacologic and behavioral interventions for nicotine dependence treatment and providing treatment to smokers for decades. He provides smoking cessation consultation for patients at OHSU hospital as well as to national, state, and local tobacco control programs which includes Indian country in addition to conducting professional education programs for health care, mental health and pharmacy professionals.
  • Antonio Baptista, Ph.D., professor and chairman of environmental and biomolecular systems, leads the Science and Technology Center (STC) for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) which will use advance science and technologies to help society meet important challenges, for example, climate change and its impacts on coastal margins, which is important to Native communities and interests. Education geared toward Natives, minorities, and females is a major focus of CMOP. Key tribal partnerships have formed with CMOP, OHSU, tribes and tribal organizations in science, technology, engineering, and environmental health.OHSU was host of a national STC gathering of all programs for three days which one of the highlights was a presentation by tribal presenters regarding Indigenous knowledge and science.

Community Service

  • OHSU Executive Leadership and key offices of the OHSU community came together with the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon and key tribal organizational entities at OHSU for a one-day summit to discuss ways to coordinate, collaborate and to foster a working relationship in the areas of education, health care, research and communication to collectively strive to improve the quality of life for all Oregonians, including Native Americans.In addition, an OHSU-Tribal exhibits fair was held to showcase activities that demonstrated efforts and hopeful coordination or collaboration. The summit was a first in the country between a major medical and tribal sovereign nations; a series of gatherings will take place in the next year.
  • OHSU President Joe Robertson, Vice President for Strategic Outreach Mark O'Hollaren, Dean Mark Richardson and Associate Dean George Mejicano of the School of Medicine made visits to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation addressing tribal council, Warm Springs Health & Wellness Clinic Medical Staff, Tribal Telco, tribal elders and tribal press on their swing trip underscoring partnership, collaboration, education, and community.
  • OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, the Casey Eye Institute, Office of Rural Health, Area Health Education Centers all have done and continue to outreach through various efforts to the American Indian/Alaska Native community on and off the reservation through Public Service announcements, project collaborative, mobile clinic initiatives, health education fairs, and hopeful future partnership.
  • OHSU's Center for Diversity & Inclusion in coordination with the Native ERG will sponsor the upcoming Native American Professionals & Friends Night that brings together the OHSU community with the Native community to continue to support efforts to network, to foster partnerships, and to engage in hopes of future collaboration through connection.
  • Provided financial support for a number of events hosted by community and civic organizations, such as the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board Pow-Wow in the Square, Native American Youth & Family Center Annual Gala, Native American Rehabilitation Association Spirit of Giving Conference, the Wisdom of the Elders Salmon Dinner & Auction.
  • OHSU is engaging partners of the Oregon Indian Education Association, Oregon Post-Secondary Coalition on Indian Education, Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, among many others.
  • Nationally, OHSU has formed partnerships with the Association of American Indian Physicians, National Indian Health Board, National Council on Urban Indian Health, National Congress of American Indians, American Indians in Science & Engineering, the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Sciences, National Indian Child Welfare Association and more.

Story by Michelle Singer and Maileen Hamto