Cherokee Nation Success Story: Collaboration Within Internal Programs

By partnering with other existing programs within their organization, the Cherokee Nation was able to increase their reach and enhance other programs while working to decrease the prevalence of heart disease. As with other Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) programs, the restrictions brought about as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic caused many delays in Strategy 4 (heart disease and stroke prevention) activities. As the restrictions lifted and the work was able to commence in earnest, the Cherokee Nation GHWIC program identified other programs within their organization with similar goals to address chronic disease. By combining efforts with other programs, they would be able to make their efforts more robust and increase their impact.

These partnerships are from a variety of current Cherokee Nation programs. For example, there was an existing Walking Group program focusing on health and providing access to physical activity opportunities for community members. The GHWIC program enhanced the program by offering pre and post blood pressure checks for participants, providing participants a blood pressure cuff at the end of the program, and enhancing the program’s flyers.

They partnered similarly with the Wings Program, which is designed to promote the importance and awareness of regular physical activity, health education, and social support. The Wings Program offers up to 20 5k and 1-mile fun runs each year in local communities across the Cherokee Nation Reservation, and the GHWIC program has had community health nurses taking participants’ blood pressure and offering health education or referrals as needed.

The GHWIC program at Cherokee Nation also collaborated with its Tribal Practices for Wellness in Indian Country (TPWIC). TPWIC aims to increase knowledge of Cherokee lifeways, culture, language, and history as key protective factor to improving health and wellness through community events. This partnership helped raise awareness to show that staying active by participating in Cherokee traditional games and preparing traditional Cherokee foods can help with the onset of cardiovascular disease by incorporating culture as a way to promote healthy lifestyles.

Cheroke Nation Public Health also offers free evidence-based tobacco prevention programs aimed to address tobacco use and exposure among Cherokee citizens. Recognizing that use of commercial tobacco is a risk factor for heart disease and strokes, the GHWIC program incorporated this with their awareness materials.

Finally, the Cherokee Nation GHWIC program also partnered with their Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) by incorporating cardiovascular education into the DPP lessons, flyers, and events.

By implementing the strategies within the existing Cherokee Nation programing, they are able to better promote an increase in physical activity, healthy nutrition, cultural connectedness, and reduce tobacco use. These promotions help reduce the prevalence of heart disease within the Cherokee Nation Reservation.

Cherokee Nation
Tahlequah, OK 74464
Phone: (918) 453-5000