News & Events


August 5, 2013

Dr. Clyde McCoy Speaks About the Improtance of Native Americans in Research and Education

DSC_0863On July 30, 2013, IWRI hosted Dr. Clyde McCoy (Eastern Band Cherokee) for a presentation on The Importance of Culture in Living and Learning. Clyde noted, “Growing up in the Appalachian Mountains near my ancestral home of the Cherokee, I did not have parents or relatives who had finished higher education… Even though my parents did not complete their education, they instilled the value of pursuing higher learning.”  His parents’ commitment to their children’s education drove Clyde and his siblings to achieve in academics.  Clyde received his BA, MA, and PhD from the University of Cincinnati.  He currently serves as a professor and emeritus chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine in Florida.  He directed the Miami Comprehensive Drug Research Center for more than three decades and was a founding member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Native American Researchers and Scholars Workgroup.
Clyde is dedicated to cultivating more Native Americans in research. He channeled his passion for mentorship into the next generation of Native American researchers.  Clyde said that, while the number is growing, “There needs be a critical mass of Native Americans in university systems that bring what we have learned from our Native cultures and communities to inform health practice.”   He is committed to discussing important issues of culture surrounding Native American communities and the role of Native American researchers in developing behavioral health practices that are consistent with Native American cultural traditions.
During his presentation, Clyde stressed that “understanding and respecting your culture will lead you to a place of strength in education.”  He asked students to remember that all of the skills that they acquire as a researchers will only carry their work as far as their understanding of the culture of those they serve.  “When working with community, understanding their relationship to culture will invariably lead you to important research questions.”
He shared recent research conducted in Alaskan villages that was centered on the historical Indigenous cultures of Alaska Native people. When the traditional diet, which was high in fish oil and vitamin DSC_0856D, was replaced with a diet low in fish oil, it caused a surge in Vitamin D deficiency among Alaska Natives.  Ultimately, it was a knowledge of the communities’ culture that led to important areas to study.
His final remark asked that we all continue to learn and grow and should put that learning into practice: “a truly educated individual understands that there is always more to learn from every group interaction and one is blessed to be a part of such global diversity that we have in the world today.”