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Tulsa researcher, Shawnee Tribe will investigate root of substance abuse issues in Indigenous communities

Evan White is Director of Native American Research at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.
Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Evan White is Director of Native American Research at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.

A new research project will look at addressing substance use problems disproportionately affecting Native American communities.

The project called "Kipiyecipakiciipe - Coming Home" is a collaboration between the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa and the Shawnee Tribe. The National Institutes of Health will fund the initiative.

The project aims to integrate clinical neuroscience and community-driven research, with a focus on cultural perspectives and knowledge.

The lead researcher on the project will be Dr. Evan White, Principal Investigator and Director of Native American Research at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.

“The project's results will provide valuable information on how cultural factors can protect against substance use problems. It will also serve as a model for studying cultural factors in other minority groups, and social determinants of health broadly with the goal of improving health for everyone,” White said in a statement.

Chief Ben Barnes emphasizes the importance of combining Shawnee cultural knowledge into healthcare services, recognizing that cultural practices have a significant role to play in improving the well-being of the tribe's members.

"Shawnee folks deserve Shawnee ways of healthcare," Barnes said in a news release. "I think it’s imperative that our cultural knowledge be the bedrock of any health and human services we provide to our people."

The project combines cultural knowledge, neuroscience, and community involvement to address substance use issues within Native American communities. Researchers hope to influence healthcare practices and policies beyond the Shawnee Tribe and Indian Country.

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Cheyenne Leach was KOSU's news intern in 2023 and 2024.
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