The Indian Health Service (IHS) launched the National Native Health Research Training Initiative (NNHRTI) in 2017 to promote Tribally driven research activity through educational and training opportunities that will build capacity and disseminate new and best practices for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) health research. The primary goal of the annual NNHRT initiative is to contribute toward the growth of a Native health research community that is dedicated to honoring tribal decision-making processes, building trust through tribal community participation and guided by tribal cultural knowledge and values. The five-year initiative was sponsored by the IHS and hosted by AIHEC and the Native Research Network (NRN).


AI/AN research has led to important advances with respect to specific health issues (e.g., vaccines for preventable diseases, diabetes prevention) as well as approaches to conducting research in AI/AN communities (e.g., Indigenous and Community-based Participatory Research). Further, studies conducted by and for AI/ANs have demonstrated the benefits of designing and evaluating health care and research programs that are founded on cultural and traditional practices, spirituality, sovereignty, self-reliance, and collaboration. However, greater attention needs to be placed on developing research methods consistent with traditional AI/AN ways of knowing in evaluating and improving systems for health care delivery and research. Out of this need, the NNHRT Initiative was formed.

NNHRTI Website

Health Initiatives

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the in-person Conference held in 2017 and 2018 was reconstructed into a monthly webinar series which took place from Jun 2020 – January 2021. To view the webinar recordings, view presenter presentation material, or learn about the speakers involved each month, click on the NNHRT website button.

The objectives of the webinar series followed those of the previous Conferences and included:

The 2017 and 2018 Conferences sought out research and poster presentations that fell within the following categories:

The 2020 NNHRT webinar series continued the focus on these health categories but expanded presentations to include relevant research and insight relating to Covid-19

Click the button above to view the recorded NNHRT webinar sessions, view presenter presentation material, and learn more about each speaker.

Sessions within the BH Track seek to address the mental and behavioral health issues by sharing research impacting Native communities that demonstrate potential for effective and innovative interventions and innovative approaches to health care and community settings. Specific topics may include:

Sessions within the BHSR track will highlight new advances in biomedical and health systems research in improving primary healthcare delivery, as well as innovative approaches in research that incorporate traditional AI/AN methodologies. The session will explore, among other questions: How are AI/AN researchers using traditional and cultural-based knowledge to break new ground in biomedical and health systems research? How can Western biomedical research models be informed by Traditional Knowledge? How are approaches to AI/AN research changing in response to community inclusion and consultation? What are good models for collaboration between Tribal and non-Tribal community-based health care providers that promote access to services, continuity of care, or public health? What is the future of biomedical and health systems research in AI/AN communities?

This session will focus on the value of TIM in promoting AI/AN/NH health and Traditional Epistemology as it relates to the creation and dissemination of indigenous knowledge, beliefs, and practices. The session will explore: What are successful models of TIM-based or related treatment? What challenges do researchers face today when evaluating the effects of TIM/Epistemology in practice? How can researchers meet these challenges? How are TIM/Epistemology models changing as more become involved in research? What are the strengths and weaknesses of different models? Are certain TIM/Epistemology practices associated with certain outcomes? How will this information enhance indigenous community-academic collaborations and improve the ability of indigenous people to use research findings? Some examples of these types of research include the roles of traditional plants, indigenous language use, traditional foods and traditional meditation in health outcomes.

Sessions within the TEK/EH track will explore the intersection and interactions between TEK and EH research. Talks will focus on the value of TEK to complement and expand upon Western scientific methods and will touch upon the potential for successes as well as the challenges of applying different but potentially complementary knowledge systems. Presentations will highlight the importance of raising awareness about culturally appropriate approaches among environmental health scientists working collaboratively with Tribal nations. The sessions will

also include discussion of intergenerational learning, and the training and skills to increase Tribal community engagement in research using case examples of successful Tribal-academic partnerships. The session will consider questions such as: How is TEK being applied in contemporary research contexts to address pressing environmental concerns? How can TEK inform EH research, and vice versa? How can TEK be used in ecological management and policy development? What is being done to prepare AI/AN tribal college students, scientists, and health professionals to incorporate both TEK and current EH research methodologies in AI/AN health studies?