Close the Health Gap Blog

Project Spotlight: Indigenous Wellness Research Institute

The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) at the University of Washington works to support the inherent rights of indigenous peoples to achieve full and complete health, by collaborating in decolonizing research, knowledge building and sharing. Launched in 2007, IWRI marks a significant moment in the advancement of indigenous ways of knowing in health policies, practices, and knowledge development. Through years of community-based participatory research, IWRI has developed resources for indigenous communities, tribal colleges and universities, and for universities in general. This data can be requested through an online search data request process.

An example of IWRI’s innovative approach is its studies of the multidisciplinary Yapalli: Choctaw Road to Health project, a culturally- focused, strengths-based outdoor experiential obesity-AOD risk prevention and health leadership program. The project consists of a 3-month intervention, which includes three individual meetings, eight group sessions, a two day culture boot camp, and the ten day Choctaw Trail of Tears walk. IWRI is evaluating the program among 150 at risk adult, Choctaw women through a longitudinal study.

Along with its research, IWRI has also developed research training programs specifically related to indigenous substance abuse, medicine and health, and HIV/AIDS research training. These programs include ISMART, a mentorship program that allows scholars of indigenous backgrounds to research in the areas of substance abuse and addiction, and the IHART2 program which aims to develop a network of underrepresented ethnic minority scholars dedicated to research that will contribute to ameliorating health disparities among American Indians/Alaska Natives and the historically underserved HIV/AIDS population of NHPI. A 2018 student trainee Kaela Patterson who participated in IWRI’s Mahina research training program notes, “The Mahina program was everything I didn’t know I needed to further improve my studies and approach as an Indigenous researcher and future public health.”

Ultimately, IWRI’s innovative, culture-centered interdisciplinary, collaborative social and behavioral research and education should be admired and learned from. You can find out more about IWRI’s current projects and programs through their website, http://iwri.org/ or through their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/indigenouswellness/