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Tribal Connections / Four Corners (TC4C) Summer 2010 Conference July 29-30, 2010 Gallup, New Mexico

I was fortunate to attend the TC4C Summer 2010 Conference at the end of July. This was my first trip to New Mexico – a very beautiful part of our country – and one which I will long remember. My trip started in Albuquerque where I visited with friends – a chemist, from whom I learned about the local uranium mines, and a biochemist, who discussed the role of metabolism and diabetes. Then I made the two hour drive to Gallup where the TC4C conference was held.

Gallup Sky

Tribal Connections / Four Corners — TC4C — is a project to link tribal communities to reliable, high-quality health information on the Web. The project was developed by the university-related health sciences libraries in the Four Corners states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), the National Library of Medicine, and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, in particular, the Regional Medical Libraries for the MidContinental Region, the Pacific Southwest Region, and the South Central Region. The TC4C Summer 2010 Conference was attended by twenty-one representatives from the above institutions.

The purpose of the Summer 2010 Conference was to plan for future collaborative projects and initiatives. The program began with an opening blessing given by Pat Bradley of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Library. Claire Hamasu, Associate Director, NN/LM MCR, presented a review of the first ten years of TC4C, noting previous in-person conferences and describing the high points of collaborative initiatives. Jeannette Ryan, from the Arizona Health Sciences Library, described a project to identify the health information needs assessment of heath care providers serving Native American communities in the Four Corners region. Dana Abbey, from the Health Sciences Library at the University of Colorado at Denver, described the success of the Four Corners Go Local project. John Bramble, from the NN/LM MCR, described the public library collaborative. Pat Bradley described the challenges and successes of the TC4C community based partnerships. Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, from the Creighton University Health Sciences Library, described efforts to identify and document effective best practices for TC4C collaborations.

Next was a panel presentation by health care providers and information specialists to describe priority health information or education issues in the Four Corners. The panel included representatives from the Gallup Indian Medical Center, the Utah Navajo Health System, Inc., the Laguna Public Library, and the Navajo Division of Health. Following this presentation, conference participants worked in small groups to examine the roles medical librarians can play in meeting health information needs at the community level.

The first day of the conference ended with a tour of the Gallup Indian Medical Center (GIMC), one of the largest hospitals within the Indian Health Services. The highlight of the tour was a presentation by Eric Willie, a Navajo medicine man, who described traditional Native American health services that are prescribed by the physicians at GIMC and provided by the two traditional Native American health providers. The tour began in a model of a Navajo home called a Hogan, followed by a visit to the recently opened “sweat house”, and ended with a tour of the emergency medical services and the obstetrics ward at GIMC.

Tribal Connections 2010

The second day of the conference continued small group work to flesh out project initiatives and discussion of next steps. The conference ended with a closing blessing, again given by Pat Bradley. A complete description of conference is forthcoming; we will provide the link when it is available.

After the meeting, I learned that Eric Willie had been a consultant on a documentary, “When Your Hands Are Tied”, an educational film for young native people. The film, which you can view in its entirety on the web site, documents the challenges of young native people in bridging contemporary culture with traditional beliefs. The film has relevant messages for many cultures, and I highly recommend it.

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