Native American Research Centers of Health (NARCH).
What is “NARCH”?
“The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and several other NIH Institutes and Centers have partnered with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to support the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program. The NARCH initiative supports partnerships between American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes or tribally-based organizations and institutions that conduct intensive academic-level biomedical research. NARCH provides opportunities for conducting research, research training and faculty development to meet the needs of AI/AN communities. As a developmental process, tribes and tribal organizations are able to build a research infrastructure, including a core component for capacity building and the possibility of reducing the many health disparities so prevalent in AI/AN communities.”
The Center for Native Environmental Health Research (NEHR) Network is a recent awardee of the NARCH VIII grant program (2014 – 2018). For this grant, the Center coordinates a partnership between Salish Kootenai College (SKC) and Northern Arizona University (NAU) on two research projects. One is for SKC Dept of Life Sciences (faculty and students) to work with two tribes in Maine (Houlton Band of Maliseets and the Aroostook Band of Micmacs) on issues of arsenic contamination of private wells. The second project involves Native researchers at NAU working with faculty and students at Dine’ College on determining exposure to Navajo members to uranium from contact with sheep. The abstract from the grant is below:
The initial focus of first research project will be to first develop Environmental Health Research Steering Committees in each community to develop, oversee and direct the community-based research. A community arsenic exposure assessment is anticipated to be the first joint research project of this proposal, as arsenic contamination of drinking water from private wells is one of the health issues common and of concern to both tribes. Other issues of interest include contamination of traditional foods by PCBs and DDT/DDE.
The second project will test the hypothesis that sheep, a traditional food, are a source of environmental uranium exposure for the Navajo people. The specific aims for the proposed work are: Specific Aim 1 – Compare uranium levels in tissues and organs from sheep grazing in mining versus non mining areas on Navajo Lands. Specific Aim 2 – Determine the extent to which sheep wool and/or hoof clippings are markers of exposure to environmental uranium.