Tribal Colleges Invited to Host Native Health Exhibition

Sep 30th, 2015 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Eleanor Diaz

In 2011, a red ribbon was cut outside the U.S. National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, to celebrate a new exhibit entitled, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness.” Four years later, the exhibition is now hitting the road and traveling to libraries across the county.

Native Voices explores the connections between wellness, illness and cultural life for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Through a partnership with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the exhibition will visit up to 104 sites from February 2016 through June 2020. Libraries that serve Native populations—including tribal college libraries—are encouraged to apply.

Through art, stories and interviews, Native Voices describes how the concept of health for Native peoples is tied to the land, spirit and community. The exhibit takes the broad idea of “health” and explores multifaceted topics such as healing, Western medicine in Native communities, and the role of Native Americans in military services. It also takes library patrons on digital adventures as they voyage on the Hōkūle’a canoe in Hawai’i and follow the journey of the Lummi Nation’s healing totem from Washington State to the NLM.

“The National Library of Medicine chose to present this exhibition because of our growing admiration for many of the ideas and practices of American Indians, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians,” says NLM director emeritus Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D. “These people do have different mental models, or attitudes if you like, about life, but they also share important beliefs.”

“We hope that visitors in communities across the country will learn from the ideas, practices and traditions shared here,” adds Betsy L. Humphreys, acting director of the NLM. “We hope, too, that those who host the exhibition will enrich it by including additional content and programs that reflect their local Native culture and history.”

The selected sites will receive the exhibition for six weeks, along with a $250 programming grant, publicity kit, online project support materials, and virtual training. The exhibit, which includes six free-standing banners and six pre-loaded iPads with stands, requires at least 35 linear feet of display space.

More information on the original exhibit can be found on NLM’s website, and details about applying for the traveling Native Voices exhibit can be found on ALA’s website, at The application deadline to host the exhibit is November 6, 2015. To apply visit:


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