Diabetes, alcoholism and obesity all disproportionately afflict Native Americans.
The reasons are many, including poverty and lack of education.
But a new $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will examine what works in Native American health care.
The grant will fund a new Center for American Indian Resilience.
Northern Arizona University Assistant Professor Priscilla Sanderson is co-director of the new center.
She says researchers want to learn how Native Americans can draw on their cultural traditions to stay healthy.
For example, she says storytelling and dance could play a big role in health education and promotion.
“How would they be able to utilize their traditional dance to become more healthy, as well as walking or running?” she asks.
She says people are more likely to take health advice from those with similar life experiences.
So another goal of the grant is to educate Native American health workers about the links between cultural traditions and healthy lifestyle choices.