Native American Voices, Traditions and Cultures Essential in Creating Healthier Communities


fresh produce in reusable woven bag

PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition has partnered with California Tribal Organizations and community partners in a variety of ways that help promote healthy living, cultural and traditional foods, and expand collaborative nutrition education activities/opportunities between California Tribal Organizations, CalFresh Healthy Living and other groups.

PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) is a national leader in developing campaigns, programs, and partnerships to reduce obesity and promote equity in the most vulnerable communities across the country. CWN’s ongoing work is grounded in a commitment to eliminating health disparities and making health accessible for all regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, class, or abilities.

CWN prioritizes culturally appropriate programming and decolonized evaluation practices by collaborating with Native partners to elevate cultural voices, lived perspectives, and healthy traditions by practicing transparent and open communication.

Since 2018, CWN has partnered with California Tribal Organizations (CTO) and community partners in a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Convening the CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL) Tribal Ambassador Committee that includes members representing diverse tribal partners from communities throughout California who provide feedback, guidance, and suggestions on nutrition education materials, healthy traditional recipes, and partnerships development to better serve California American Indian Alaskan Native communities. This committee has developed a range of new culturally appropriate CFHL resources that promote healthy living and traditional foods.
  • Conducting a Statewide Needs Assessment to explore opportunities and barriers to expand collaborative nutrition education activities between California Tribal Organizations and CalFresh Healthy Living and to identify barriers and facilitators to acquiring access to traditional foods and strengthening tribal food sovereignty in California.
  • Providing Professional Development Opportunities like the Data Equity webinar, “Decolonizing Data Practices through Indigenous Evaluation Approaches,” featuring Dr. Rose James, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Urban Indian Health Institute. Dr. James addressed the need for better data to support indigenous communities along with action steps to improve data collection accuracy and be ethically representative of all community members.
  • Members of the PHI CWN Tribal Expansion Project shared their work and findings at the Sixth Annual Native American Nutrition Conference during a poster presentation, titled CalFresh Healthy Living Tribal Ambassador Committee: CA Indigenous Voices at the CalFresh Table. Since 2021, the Tribal Ambassador Committee has supported the development of over 10 culturally tailored nutrition education resources, guided the selection of community-based projects, and lent their expertise to the development and interpretation of a statewide needs assessment.

PHI’s CWN has been honored to partner with and support these projects and work alongside Native American partners. Metria Munyan and Patricia Leyva are CWN program leaders in this collaborative work.

screenshot of PHI's Data Equity Webinar

Watch the Data Equity webinar, “Decolonizing Data Practices through Indigenous Evaluation Approaches” to learn about the needs and benefits of Decolonizing Evaluation practices within public health organizations and introduce Indigenous Data Sovereignty as the right of Indigenous peoples to govern the collection, ownership, and application of data about their communities, peoples, lands, and resources.


A version of this impact story first appeared in a Center for Wellness and Nutrition newsletter.

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