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ATSU-CGHS alumni, staff attend Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas’ 50th Anniversary Celebration

Mary-Katherine McNatt, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, CPH, COI, chair and professor, public health, with ATSU alumni Deanna Tran, DMD, MPH, ’21, and Stanley Samuel, MPH, ’21 at the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas’ 50th Anniversary Celebration in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 1, 2022.

Staff and alumni from A.T. Still University’s College of Graduate Health Studies (ATSU-CGHS) attended the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas’ 50th Anniversary Celebration in Dallas, Texas, where they connected with indigenous communities and celebrated work being done by a partnership between ATSU-CGHS and the tribal center.

The Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas (UITCT) is a Dallas-based nonprofit dedicated to strengthening health and socio-economic outcomes for indigenous communities in Texas. For half a century, the tribal center has provided culturally-sensitive, community-based services such as dental care, primary care, and behavioral health counseling. The center is the only urban tribal center located in Texas. 

Mary-Katherine McNatt, DrPH, MPH, MCHES, CPH, COI, chair and professor, public health, has led the partnership with the tribal center since 2016. 

“Cultural connections are so important, but in these urban areas it’s really hard to have a cultural connection with your tribe. Not living on a reservation and not being around other indigenous individuals is really hard,” said Dr. McNatt, who is a member of the Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo tribe.

This partnership between the tribal center and ATSU-CGHS began through a grant established by Dr. McNatt, along with CGHS staff Marsha Presley, PhD, MPH, and Susan Thomas, MSEd.

This grant, entitled “Improving Tribal Mind, Body, and Spiritual Wellness through Cultural Connections,” led to the development of a 15-week online diabetes intervention course for tribal members, with a focus on cultural connectedness. 

“Each topic in the course is tied to cultural connectedness…it was wonderful because people would bring their children, and although the children weren’t actually part of the research intervention, it was important because it’s all about bringing back the family and cultural connections,” Dr. McNatt explained. 

At the event, which was held on Oct. 1, 2022, attendees participated in raffles and giveaways, and had the opportunity to view demonstrations such as native dances. However the highlight of the event, Dr. McNatt said, was meeting individuals who had attended the online diabetes intervention course.

“We saw some of the people who have gone through the program, and they just came up and hugged us,” Dr. McNatt said. 

Ceremonial dancer at the UITCT 50th Anniversary Celebration.

Along with the online course participants, alumni of ATSU-CGHS’ Master of Public Health (MPH) program who helped in the development of the partnership attended the event. 

“Because we’re an online program, having alumni come so far for something they felt was important for them and that they’re so connected to speaks volumes, not only to our program, but to the partnership,” Dr. McNatt said. 

Dr. McNatt said UITCT is also in the process of becoming a rotation site for ATSU-Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-ASDOH) dual degree students. 

The partnership established between ATSU-CGHS and the tribal center has also led to discussions with many other organizations and nonprofits in Texas about establishing their own partnerships.

“They’re just excited that we’re there, they’re sending others to us to explore other partnerships…We have a reputation because we’ve worked so well with them,” Dr. McNatt said of the tribal center.

The partnership’s next event will be a diabetes health fair on Oct. 28, 2022. Learn more about this event and future events on UITCT’s Facebook.


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