People at the Center for American Indian Health share a consistent message: all cultures have much to learn from American Indian communities. A central theme of my own collaborative work is to understand the social and historical determinants of health for Indigenous individuals and families. The lessons we learn throughout these projects, from our elders, and from community members offer important teachings about the mechanisms through which culture and local contexts impact well-being.
Melissa L. Walls (Ph.D., Bois Forte and Couchiching First Nations Anishinabe) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health and Population Sciences at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. She is joining the Center as a Visiting Associate Professor for the 2016-2017 academic year. Dr. Walls is a social scientist committed to collaborative research and has over a decade of experience working with tribal communities in the United States and Canada. Her involvement in community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects to date includes mental health epidemiology; culturally-relevant, family-based substance use prevention and mental health promotion programming and evaluation; and examining the impact of stress and mental health on diabetes. Dr. Walls’s collaborative work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.