Reclaiming Indigenous Health in the US: Moving beyond the Social Determinants of Health

Stephanie Russo Carroll, Michele Suina, Mary Beth Jäger, Jessica Black, Stephen Cornell, Angela A. Gonzales, Miriam Jorgensen, Nancy Lynn Palmanteer-Holder, Jennifer S. De La Rosa, Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The lack of literature on Indigenous conceptions of health and the social determinants of health (SDH) for US Indigenous communities limits available information for Indigenous nations as they set policy and allocate resources to improve the health of their citizens. In 2015, eight scholars from tribal communities and mainstream educational institutions convened to examine: the limitations of applying the World Health Organization’s (WHO) SDH framework in Indigenous communities; Indigenizing the WHO SDH framework; and Indigenous conceptions of a healthy community. Participants critiqued the assumptions within the WHO SDH framework that did not cohere with Indigenous knowledges and epistemologies and created a schematic for conceptualizing health and categorizing its determinants. As Indigenous nations pursue a policy role in health and seek to improve the health and wellness of their nations’ citizens, definitions of Indigenous health and well-being should be community-driven and Indigenous-nation based. Policies and practices for Indigenous nations and Indigenous communities should reflect and arise from sovereignty and a comprehensive understanding of the nations and communities’ conceptions of health and its determinants beyond the SDH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7495
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • Indigenous
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • WHO
  • health
  • healthy community
  • social determinants of health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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