Meet Trailblazers in Indigenous Research

Have you ever wondered what research from an Indigenous perspective by an Indigenous researcher for an Indigenous community looks like? If that idea speaks to you, then this is the place you need to be! Personal stories of academic, career, and research projects are presented here in video format for you to explore.

Aseto’ne Video Resource Center

Videos of Indigenous Researchers



AISES (Cont.)

We Are Healers


Indigenous Students In Research

American Indian Physicians Association – Physician of the Year


Daniel Calac, Pauma

Since 2003 Dr. Calac has served as CMO of Indian Health Council, Inc. (IHC), a consortium of nine tribes located in North County San Diego. IHC provides on-site and outreach services and programs to nearly 5,000 clients and provides over 20,000 visits per year. He received his medical degree from

Harvard Medical School and did both internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics Residency Program at University of Southern California/Los Angeles County (USC-LAC). Calac also serves his community by contracting part-time with The Elizabeth Hospice, providing hospice care and emotional support to both the terminally ill and their family members. He serves on the Advisory Board of Directors for California State University San Marcos and

as a Governance Board Member for a local All Tribes Charter School located on the Rincon Indian Reservation. He served as a co-principal investigator for the Preventing Underage Drinking by Southwest Indians Program sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Currently, he is a Principal Investigator with the California Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) whose goals are to increase the quantity and quality of research on the health of Native Americans in California and to increase the number of Native American students and faculty in California universities. He has served as the Principal Investigator for this project for the past 5 years and is committed to the fundamental mission of the project. He plays an active role in projects, in some as Dual-PI, and his commitment is further enhanced by providing shadowing/mentoring session for those students involved in the NARCH program and its individual projects.


Victoria M. Stevens, Apache

Daughter of a ranching family, Dr. Stevens grew up in central Arizona, home of the San Carlos Apaches. She is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and despite choosing a career in orthopedic surgery, has remained in the place she was born. Hands-on patient care and advocacy have been her interest since choosing a career in medicine. After graduating from Escuela Nacional Normal in Alcorta, Argentina and Globe High School in Globe, Arizona, Dr. Stevens (Vikki) began as a premed student at the University of Arizona in Tucson. When she graduated, she received the Robie Award, given to an outstanding senior woman, for her cumulative GPA and campus activities that included Indian student affairs. Now retired from private practice, she is vice-chairman of the board of directors of the San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation, working to guide the delivery of patient care at the nearly new P.L. 638 Hospital her tribe has established.


Arne Vainio, Ojibwe

Arne Vainio, M.D. was born in Chisholm, Minnesota to a full-blood Ojibwe mother and a Finnish father. He is an enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. He completed his undergraduate studies in 1990 at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, entered the University of Minnesota Medical School – Duluth and graduated in 1994. He completed his Family Practice Residency Program at the Seattle Indian Health Board and Providence Hospital in Seattle, Washington in 1997. He has been employed as a Family Practice Physician at the Min-No-Aya-Win Human Services Clinic on the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Reservation in Cloquet, Minnesota since September of 1997. He is a member of the Association of American Family Physicians and the Association of American Indian Physicians. Dr. Vainio is the recipient of the following wards: National Indian Health Service Director’s Award, National Diabetes Physician’s Recognition Award, the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s Early Distinguished Career Award, the 2016 Virginia McKnight Binger Unsung Hero Award, and was a finalist for the 2017 Minnesota Academy of Family Physician’s “Minnesota Physician of the Year” Award. Dr. Vainio is featured in the 2009 Emmy nominated American Indian health documentary film “Walking Into The Unknown,” in PBS’s WDSE-TV Native Report’s “Health Matters” weekly segment, and in “We Are Healers” a Native produced film series. He is a columnist for national news from Indian Country Today (for the past 8 years) and Indianz.com newspapers (for past 2 years).


Jennie R. Joe, Professor Emerita

Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Diné

Elders Advisory Council Wisdom Keepers:

Professor Joe is at the University of Arizona (UA) and until retirement, directed the Native American Research and Training Center (NARTC) for over 20 years. Presently, she serves as a temporary interim Executive Director of NARTC. She received a joint doctoral degree from University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco and before coming to UA, she was on faculty at UCLA, teaching in three departments: anthropology, women’s studies, and American Indian Studies. Her interest in American Indian Studies continued at UA where she held an affiliated faculty position in American Indian Studies. In addition to teaching, her research activities have and continue to focus on indigenous health, childhood diabetes, childhood disabilities, cancer, men’s and women’s health. Throughout her academic career, she also has served on a number of national and international committees, including National Advisory Council for the National Heart, lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Medicine, National Museum of American Indian, Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health’s Institute for Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, Parliament of World’s Religion, etc. Although retired, she continues to mentor native students and participates as consultant on indigenous health studies/programs.

Philip Smith, MD, MPH, Diné

Dr. Smith earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Utah in 1978 and his MPH from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. In 1983 he joined the Indian Health Service as Service Unit Director and Family Practice clinical provider at the Tuba City, AZ Indian Hospital. Dr. Smith was Director of the IHS Office of Health Programs and Chief Medical Officer for many years. During this time, he also served as Director of the National IHS Institutional Review Board. Additionally, he served in various volunteer capacities with the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) and Native Research Network. In his honor, the NRN developed the Phil Smith award for a federal employee involved in research. At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Phil, as he is known to many, works with the Center’s Training team on developing and implementing courses and mentoring students.

Joe Dan Coulter, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa, Citizen Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma

Dr. Joe Dan Coulter, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Iowa. Dr. Coulter received his PhD in biological psychology and did a Post-doc work in neurophysiology in Texas, Italy and Scotland. Prior to his appointment in the College of Public Health as Associate Dean for Diversity (2004), Dr. Coulter served as Head of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Carver College of Medicine, as Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program, and as the Associate Provost for Diversity and Director, Opportunity at Iowa, The University of Iowa. Dr. Coulter’s professional service has included Associate Program Director, Behavioral and Neurosciences Division, National Science Foundation; Chair, Council of Academic Societies, Association of American Medical Colleges; and President, Association of Neuroscience Departments and Programs. Joe Dan, as he is known to AIAN, he worked extensively in AIAN education programs in Montana, Northern Plains and Iowa. He has served on numerous federal review/advisory committees and given talks on research methods and health disparities. Joe Dan remains active in teaching, conducting research and community service in human rights and American Indian/Alaska Native health.

C. June Strickland, PhD, RN

Professor Emerita, Department of Psychosocial and Community Health Nursing, University of Washington School of Nursing, Cherokee

C. June Strickland, PhD, RN, Professor Emerita, Department of Psychosocial and Community Health Nursing in the University of Washington School Of Nursing, for over 25 years, she retired in 2018 as a full professor. Since that time, she has continued to provide guest lectures for the Ph.D. program on grounded theory research methodology, provides an orientation each year for undergraduate nursing students who go into a clinical rotation in two Washington state tribes with the University of Washington School of Nursing. She has collaborated with these two tribes to establish clinical rotation sites with the University of Washington School of Nursing in1997. Additionally, she serves as a member of the University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity advisory committee, serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Transcultural Nursing, and serves as a member of the Northwest Area Indian Health Board NARCH advisory committee. In 2012, Dr. Strickland was awarded the prestigious Dr. Frank Dukepoo award by the Native Research Network.

Yvette Roubideaux, MH, MPH

Vice President for Research and Director of the Policy Research Center at the National congress of American Indians, Rosebud Sioux

Yvette Roubideaux, MH, MPH, is the Vice President for Research and Director of the Policy Research Center at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Her previous work includes serving in the Obama Administration as a Senior Advisor to the HHS Secretary for American Indians and Alaska Natives and as the Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Health Systems, Management, and Policy in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado. Previous academic appointments include Clinical Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Leadership at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University, and Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Zuckerman College of Public Health. Dr. Roubideaux is former Co-Chair and a founding member of the Native Research Network; additionally, she served as President of the Association of American Indian Physicians. Dr Roubideaux received her undergraduate, medical, and public health degrees at Harvard, is the author of several peer-reviewed research publications and co-edited the 2001 book Promises to Keep: Public Health Policy for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

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