ANTHC hosts inaugural Alaska Indigenous Research Program, lays foundation for culturally responsive research collaboration | Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

ANTHC hosts inaugural Alaska Indigenous Research Program, lays foundation for culturally responsive research collaboration

August 21, 2019

ANTHC and Alaska Pacific University (APU) hosted the first-ever Alaska Indigenous Research Program (AKIRP) in Anchorage. The theme for the program, which was held in May, was Promoting Resilience, Health and Wellness. The research program aims to increase cultural humility and sensitivity of health researchers with emphasis on the importance of Tribally driven and culturally responsive research as well as support and grow Indigenous researchers and scholars.

The program included three weeks of courses designed for all levels of research and covered a variety of topics including indigenous and western research methodologies, community-based participatory research, health research ethics, historical trauma and culturally responsive community engagement.

An important component was addressing intergenerational trauma and the history of research mistrust between research entities and Tribal communities.

“A fire has been lit to continue our collaborative efforts in working towards community-driven, grounded research,” said Karli Tyance Hassell, Research Associate with ANTHC’s Community Health Services. “Each participant is like an ember from a fire, smoldering and slow-burning. This program has given us the strength to share our teachings and knowledge gained in our own journeys.”

Over 135 participants and guest speakers from Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico and Louisiana, as well as participants from Canada, Mexico and Sweden attended the program. The engaging interactive lessons included panel discussions, a traditional blanket toss, an aunties-and-uncles research talk, and even a stroll through the forest with Meda DeWitt, an APU master’s student and traditional healing practitioner, to learn about medicinal plants and healing.

The first year has already proven to be an inspirational and empowering event and has led to lifelong friendships and continued collaboration across various sectors, projects and programs. Many of the participants expressed the program inspired a journey of personal passion and discovery grounded in deep learning with a holistic focus on healthy communities, research and resilience.

Funded for the next four years by the Native American Research Centers for Health, AKIRP is a capacity-building program that includes the creation of internship positions. These internships are designed to provide hands-on experience in health research. The interns are exposed to a variety of trainings, events, projects, and programs at ANTHC over a five to seven-week period.

If you would like to find out how to attend future programs or to learn more, please visit

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