Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness

Spirit of Eagles by Chholing Taha (Cree Indian) 2010. Courtesy National Library of Medicine.

The Bio-Medical Library is pleased to host Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness, which examines concepts of health and medicine among contemporary American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

The traveling exhibit, produced by the National Library of Medicine, explores the connection between wellness, illness, and cultural life through a combination of interviews with Native people, artwork, objects, and interactive media.

The exhibit features interviews and works from Native people living on reservations, in tribal villages, and in cities.

Topics include:

  • Native views of land, food, community, earth/nature, and spirituality as they relate to
    Native health;
  • the relationship between traditional healing and Western medicine in Native communities;
  • economic and cultural issues that affect the health of Native communities;
  • efforts by Native communities to improve health conditions;
  • and the role of Native Americans in military service and healing support for returning Native veterans.

Exhibit details

What: Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness
When: March 30 through May 14, 2020
Where: Bio-Medical Library, 2nd Floor, Diehl Hall
Hours: Open during the Bio-Medical Library’s regular hours.

Free and open to the public.

Related events

Opening song and lecture
When: April 1, 3:30 p.m – 5:30 p.m.
Where: Bio-Medical Library, 2nd Floor, Diehl Hall
Free and open to the public.

An opening song will be presented by Randy “Ozaawaagwaneyaash” Gresczyk, and will be followed by a lecture by Linda Frizzell, Ph.D. that will feature a brief history of Native health and an overview of the U of M School of Public Health’s work to address historical health inequities of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Lecture: Native health and wellness by Dr. Mary Owen
When: April 29, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Where: forthcoming
Free and open to the public.

This lecture by Mary Owen, MD will discuss the many different ways that Native people perceive health and wellness, given how many different communities we come from and our varied degrees of acculturation.

Exhibit: Spirit of Eagles featuring the artwork of Chholing Taha
When: March 26 through May 6
Where: Bio-Medical Library, 2nd Floor, Diehl Hall
Free and open to the public.

In this Art@Bio-Med exhibit, Chholing Taha tells stories through paintings and Native American textiles such as shawls, blankets, and hoods. The focus of her work is on beauty, harmony, healing, life, and redemption – for humans as well as the rest of nature under human affect.


The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) developed and produced Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness. The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in partnership with NLM, tours the exhibition to America’s libraries.

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