Tribal Leaders and Organizations in Lung Health

Spotlight Series

Spotlight Series: Tribal Leaders and Organizations in Lung Health

The American Lung Association proudly partners with Tribal leaders and organizations to raise awareness about lung health and devise community-informed, effective ways to address disparities. Here are some highlights of these impactful partnerships:

Logo for American Indian Community Housing Organization

American Indian Community Housing Organization | Duluth, Minnesota

The American Indian Community Housing Organization (AICHO) joined together with the American Lung Association and coalition partners as part of the Lethal Lure campaign to limit access to flavored tobacco products, including menthol in Duluth, MN. AICHO’s Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center’s art gallery hosted the visual storytelling that launched the campaign.

During this time, AICHO purchased a former grocery store in a low-income neighborhood and began the process to renovate the property into an Indigenous food market, deli with healthy, Indigenous grab-and-go options and coffee shop with community education/meeting space. As part of their vision for the market and the community, AICHO also made the decision not to sell commercial tobacco in the new market.

Janna Vallo. She is wearing a purple sweater and turquoise necklace and smiles into the camera. She has long hair and brown skin.

Janna Vallo, Commercial Tobacco Control and Prevention Coordinator

Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Janna Vallo is from the Pueblo of Acoma. She is the Commercial Tobacco Control & Prevention Coordinator under the CDC Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Program at the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC). Janna currently chairs the New Mexico Credentialing Board for Behavioral Health Professionals, the New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco, and the Southwest Tribal Tobacco Coalition. Janna provides interactive facilitation, networking, technical support, and training opportunities for Tribal communities seeking to build their knowledge around commercial tobacco prevention, while respecting traditional and sacred uses of tobacco.

Although the pandemic gave us a challenging year, AASTEC was able to reach out to all their local tribal partners, as well as national tribal partners, to provide monthly virtual presentations around commercial tobacco. They provided technical assistance as requested to tribes around commercial tobacco and COVID-19. They also created packets for tribal casinos to positively encourage them to maintain their smoke-free status, with the hopes of them making it a long-term policy. AASTEC worked to embrace the change to a virtual platform that allowed us to network and collaborate nationally to grow the efforts around commercial tobacco cessation and prevention. They consider this work continuous and fun!

Logo for the American Indian Association of Tucson

Tucson Indian Center | Tuscon, Arizona

The Tucson Indian Center has successfully facilitated the American Lung Association’s Freedom from Smoking (FFS) program since 2019.  The Center’s FFS programming is unique because they include the medicine wheel model and talk about the differences between commercial tobacco products and Traditional Tobacco. This approach is in line with the Center’s vision statement of providing culturally competent, respectful, and compassionate wellness services. Many in their urban Indian community have successfully completed and quit smoking using the FFS program. The Center looks forward to many more years of offering the FFS program and they will continue to work towards protecting the health of their urban Native American community.

Logo for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

Alaska Native Tribal Consortium | Alaska

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) is a non-profit Tribal health organization that serves almost 180,000 Alaska Native and American People in Alaska. The American Lung Association has partnered with ANTHC on several initiatives, including commercial tobacco policy, successfully advancing Smoke Free Alaska, sponsorships of our Breathe Easy Breakfast and Asthma Walk, and participation in the Clean Air Challenge.

In 2012, the Lung Association recognized ANTHC with the Breathe Easy Champion Award for outstanding leadership in improving the lives of Alaskans. Since 1997 when ANTHC was established to provide statewide health services to Alaska Native people, ANTHC and its Tribal health partners have shown remarkable innovation in providing health care in some of Alaska’s most challenging environments with very limited resources.

ANTHC has also played a vital role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution in not only Anchorage but to the most remote parts of the state of Alaska. The ANTHC, with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, established the Alaska Vaccine Task Force, led by state and Tribal leaders, to embed Tribal and state coordination into all aspects of the vaccination process including allocation, distribution, communication, and funding.

Logo for the The American Indian Health Commission

The American Indian Health Commission | Washington State

American Indian Health Commission (AIHC) for Washington State acknowledges the historical and cultural context of the barriers to vaccination and disease prevention experienced by American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. AIHC is a non-profit organization working to improve the health of AI/AN populations by addressing inequities in governmental policies and systems through tribal and state collaboration. AIHC works for 29 federally recognized Tribes, two Urban Indian Health Organizations, and other Tribal health organizations.

AIHC’s Tribal and Urban Indian Health Immunization Coalition (TUIHIC) is the first Tribal immunizations coalition in the nation. TUIHIC is experienced in efforts to address AI/AN immunizations and vaccine access, surveillance, prevention practices, infectious disease, and health literacy. Since 2008, TUIHIC’s has conceptualized 100% immunization coverage in Indian Country. TUIHIC applied the tribal centric evidence-informed ‘Pulling Together for Wellness’ framework in the development of the model Tribal and Urban Indian Vaccination Record Cards. The National Congress of American Indians issued a resolution urging federal, state, and local governments to recognize official Tribal/Urban Indian Vaccination Record Cards.

The Lung Association in Washington State works in partnership with the AIHC TUIHIC to increase COVID-19 Vaccine confidence and address commercial tobacco prevention and cessation to preventing respiratory disease.

Page last updated: November 29, 2023

Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | May 07, 2024
Asthma Basics Workshop - National
, | May 15, 2024