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Keywords

Alaska Natives; American Indians; Children; Cultural competence; Diabetes – Prevention; Diabetes – Study and teaching; Diabetes education; Disparities; Health education; Indians of North America; Native science

Abstract

In an unprecedented effort to address the epidemic of diabetes in tribal communities, the Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools project brought together a group of individuals from eight tribal colleges and three federal agencies to develop a diabetes prevention curriculum for American Indian and Alaska Native school children. The curriculum incorporates Western and Native science with culturally responsive teaching techniques. Both the project and its evaluation process have reached beyond conventional bounds to acknowledge fundamental issues of tribal culture, history and health and the integration of science, culture, and community. This article will discuss the challenges and rewards of the inter-cultural dynamics of the project’s development process, the tribal community context within which the curriculum will be implemented, and the necessary convergence of science and culture, requisite for education in this population and the elimination of diabetes-related health disparities.