Center for Indigenous People, Health and Nursing of North America Overview

The University of Minnesota has acknowledged the need to better serve citizens of Minnesota’s Tribal Nations and their communities. The creation of a Center within the School of Nursing (SON) devoted to improving the health and well-being of Indigenous people and communities works toward reconciliation. The purpose of the Center for Indigenous People, Health, & Nursing is to build respectful, collaborative relationships with Tribal Nations, health care and higher academic institutions, federal and state agencies; collaborate with community organizations; prepare Indigenous nurses with doctoral education;  and develop evidence-based interventions and best practices with stakeholders to eradicate health disparities in Indigenous people and communities. The Center will serve as a leader to address the current status of Indigenous people and communities by educating AI/AN doctorally prepared nurses while focusing on scholarship, education, and community engagement.

Our vision is to minimize health disparities to improve health outcomes for AI/AN individuals, families, and communities.

Our mission is threefold: 

  1. to establish and maintain collaborative relationships with Tribal Nations and communities;
  2. to partner with agencies and organizations to positively influence health policies for Indigenous people; and
  3. to educate, mentor, and support current and future Indigenous doctorally prepared nurses that will transform the communities they serve.

Strategic Goals & Objectives


  • Serve as a regional (and national) hub for connections with Tribal Nations, government agencies, foundations, healthcare systems, and educational institutions
  • Support and foster research led or directed by AI/ANs to enhance health outcomes
  • Collaborate and partner with urban and rural organizations and institutions to secure grant funding to support the mission and values of the center and stakeholders


  • Contribute to increasing and diversifying the nursing workforce by becoming the #1 US institution for AI/AN nurses graduating with a DNP or PhD in nursing
  • Create pathways for AI/AN nurses to obtain graduate degrees to increase Indigenous nurses, APRNs, faculty, and researchers
  • Partner with non-Tribal and Tribal colleges and universities with ADN and BSN programs with Indigenous nursing students and support systems to establish sustainable pathways in higher education
  • Emphasize the development of education systems that better prepare nurses for practicing in community-based settings with a diverse population with diverse life experiences
  • Enhance current work to establish and model Indigenization curricula and establish curriculum for providing culturally sensitive care for AI/AN/Indigenous patients
  • Create a repository for information on Indigenization of curricula

Community Engagement

  • Establish and maintain inclusive and trusting relationships with Tribal Nations (urban and rural) in Minnesota, surrounding states, and nationwide to address workforce needs and healthcare disparities
  • Establish and maintain inclusive and trusting relationships with health care and higher academic institutions, federal and state agencies, and community organizations to develop evidence-informed interventions and practices
  • Elevate current and future AI/AN healthcare professionals as national leaders for their research, service, and teaching
  • Develop an advisory board to guide the current and future work ensuring the vision, mission, and sustainability of the Center

In summary, the University of Minnesota School of Nursing has proven innovation and leadership in multiple areas of nursing. Establishing the Center for Indigenous People, Health, & Nursing would put us at the forefront for building respectful and trusting relationships with Tribal Nations, health care and higher academic institutions, federal and state agencies, and community organizations. It will provide an excellent recruiting opportunity to obtain more AI/AN/Indigenous nursing faculty, which will inspire more Indigenous nursing students to attend our programs and return to their home communities to work towards eradicating health disparities. We have all of the necessary resources to launch a Center devoted to Indigenous People, Health, and Nursing of North America.

Inaugural Advisory Board Members

Misty Wilkie (Center Director, Director of Pathway to Doctoral Education for AI/AN Nurses)

Connie Delaney (Dean, School of Nursing)

Lisa Martin (Clinical Associate Professor, Pathway Mentor & Indigenization Scholar)

Margaret Moss (Professor & Associate Dean of Nursing & Health Policy, Pathway Mentor)

Marique Moss, (President of Natuv Way Foundation)

Ravyn Gibbs (MDH Tribal Liaison)

Brandon Alkire (Minnesota Indian Affairs Council)

Karen Diver (U of MN Senior Advisor to President Native American Affairs)

Erica Amador (Pine Ridge IHS Service Unit Director of Nursing)

Michael Bird (Past President American Public Health Association)

Sandy Littlejohn (National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association)

Ex-officio members

Judy Pechachek, DNP Coordinator

Mary Fran Tracy, PhD Coordinator

Kathryn Schwartz Eckhardt, Office of Student & Career Advancement (OSCAS) Director

Diane Treat-Jacobson, Office of Nursing Research & Scholarship Director

Carol Flaten, BSN Director