News & Events


June 23, 2016

Māhina Trainees Learn about Pacific Northwest Tribes

The Māhina International Indigenous Health Research Training Program provides an international 10-12 week health research training opportunity in New Zealand for undergraduate students and graduate students who are interested in biomedical, behavioral science, public health and social science health research careers and self-identify as being from an Indigenous population.  The program is a partnership among the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) at the University of Washington, Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawai’i and the Department for Maori Health at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa (New Zealand).  Māhina focuses on the theoretical, methodological, and substantive issues concerning Indigenous health; and Indigenous research ethics and protocols and Indigenous knowledges and research methodologies. Māhina is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, T37MD008625.

Māhina share a song in graditude for the Colville hosts

On Monday, June 13, 2016, the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, Māhina Project Director, Anjulie Ganti, MSW-MPH, and her Hawaiian counterpart, Samantha Rose Herrera, MSW, welcomed the second Māhina cohort to the University of Washington.  The trainees included three students from the UW [Jackie Johnson (Makah), Gordon Mahea (Kanaka O’iwi), and Rosa Frutos Lopez (Warm Springs & Mexican)], one student from Northwest Indian College [Phoebe Keryte (Diné, Isleta and Santa Ana Pueblo)], four students from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa [Ka’iulani Ka’alekahi (Kanaka O’iwi), McKenna Dooley (Kanaka O’iwi), Mapuana Antonio (Kanaka O’iwi), and Maria Petelo (Kanaka O’iwi and Samoan)], and two tuakana (mentors) from the University of Auckland [Ashlea Gillion (Maori), and Lina Samu (Samoan).

The week here in the Pacific Northwest opened with a welcome from the chair of the Snohomish Tribe, Mike Evans, and IWRI staff member, Chris Charles (Cowichan, Nanaimo and Duwamish), followed by a discussion on the Native history of Seattle and the cultural revitalization efforts exemplified by the Tribal Canoe Journey.

Tuesday began with presentations and conversations with IWRI staff and faculty including Acting Director of IWRI, Dr. Tessa Evans-Campbell (Snohomish), Dr. Cynthia Pearson, Tess Abrahamson-Richards (Spokane), MPH and Kerrie Sumner Murphy, MSW.

Mahina Trainees Presenting at ColvilleImmediately following lunch, the group loaded into vans and drove across the Cascade Mountains to the Colville Indian Reservation of Northeast Washington, where they were welcomed by Dr. Tom Ball, Dr. Alison Ball, Colville Vice Chairman Dr. Michael Marchand and the National Institutes of Health’s Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) student coordinator, Conita Desautel.  Both the Māhina cohort and the inaugural Colville NARCH cohort shared a wonderful meal followed by a cultural exchange of songs and gifts.

Camas roots for the traditional foods feast at Colville

Camas roots for the traditional foods feast at Colville

Wednesday began with sharing the tradition of the sweat lodge followed by a traditional foods lunch and presentation by the Colville Tribes’ language and cultural resources departments.  The group also welcomed Dr. Myra Parker (Mandan/Hidatsa) and Dr. Maya Magarati (Indigenous Magar from Nepal) from the UW, who are collaborating with the Colville NARCH project, as well as welcoming Dr. Brad Coombs (Maori) from the University of Auckland.  The day ended in a talking circle where participants shared their thoughts, experiences and goals for research in indigenous communities.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Māhina group bid farewell to their NARCH colleagues and headed back west over the mountains, though not without stopping to photograph themselves in some snow–which was a new experience for some of the Hawaii students.  The night ended in a stay at the Swinomish Tribe’s casino and resort on Northwest Washington’s Fidalgo Island.

Elder Rosie Cayou James shares wisdom of honoring the web of life

Elder Rosie Cayou James shares wisdom of honoring the web of life

On Thursday, the group was hosted by the Samish Indian Nation in Anacortes, Washington (on northern Fidalgo Island) where they were greeted by the Director of Education and Outreach and Samish canoe family skipper, Adam Lorio, elder and cultural specialist, Rosie Cayou James, elder and master carver, William Bailey and councilperson, Jenna Strand.

The Māhina cohort learned to make frybread in the various traditions of their own families.  They fixed a meal together including salmon and clams while discussing the importance of traditional foods and medicines.  A huge shout out goes to Taylor Shellfish for donating the clams!  The afternoon included sharing stories, songs, dances and gifts with the finale of paddling as a team in the Samish canoe, Eshas (sea lion).

Preparing to paddle in a Samish canoe

Preparing to paddle in a Samish canoe

On Friday, the final day, the group returned to Seattle where they regrouped and reflected on the many activities of the first week, and then preparing for the next phase of the project–their training orientation in Hawai’i.

Our hands are raised to everyone who participated and gave so thoughtfully of their time and resources—too many to name you all!  The cohort was indeed touched by the generosity, the richness of culture and the wonderful strength and resilience demonstrated here in Washington State.  It was an honor to host them, to share our families and lands with them and we wish them all safe travels as they continue their journeys to Hawai’i and Aotearoa!