Healthy Tribal communities that are sustained through lasting collaborative partnerships.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center empowers American Indian Nations and urban Indian populations by building community-driven public health and epidemiological capacity through outreach and creative partnerships.

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RMTEC Report: 2018 Substance Abuse, Poor Mental Health, and the Social Determinants of Health

Social Determinants of Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These social, physical, and economic conditions can significantly affect an individual’s health outcomes and overall quality of life. Health inequities arise in environments where challenging social conditions exist, impacting an individual’s likeliness of developing mental health disorders and initiating substance abuse. This report explores the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and Substance Use and Mental Health (SUMH) in Montana and Wyoming counties with a focus on American Indian populations.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center partnered with Tribal Prevention Initiative to explore substance abuse and poor mental health in Montana and Wyoming using the social determinants of health framework.

To read this report, please click here.


RMTEC Report: Public Health Workforce Development

The public health workforce is shrinking. There are 50,000 fewer public health workers in the United States today compared to 20 years ago—tribes have been impacted by the shortage of tribal public health workers. Tribal public health professionals are in charge of hospitals and health care, they initiate and maintain data surveillance systems. Others provide critical services in the way of environmental engineering, environmental health, epidemiology, infection control, social work occupational safety, nursing, nutrition, and more. The tribal public health workforce is impacted by funding shortfalls within the Indian Health Service and limited training opportunities for tribal public health workforce professionals.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center at the University of Colorado Denver, are assessing tribal public health workforce needs throughout Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. In December 2016, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center sent a tribal public health workforce assessment to all tribal public health workforce professionals. Results from this assessment will be used to develop training opportunities that strengthen the tribal public health workforce.  A summary version of the report is available here.

To read the final report, please click here.


RMTEC Report: Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Surveillance

Substance abuse is an emerging public health issue. Alcohol consumption alone in the United States contributes to 75,000 deaths each year and costs more than $184 billion. American Indian populations are disproportionately impacted by substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. Limited funding, emerging surveillance infrastructure, and the lack of data make it difficult to document the health effects of substance abuse. 

In September 2016, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center received a 1-year, $30,000 grant from the Center for State and Territorial Epidemiologists to assess tribal substance use and behavioral health surveillance capacity across tribal jurisdictions of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Since then, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center met with tribal stakeholders and convened a work group of tribal chemical dependency and behavioral health professionals. The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center then developed a report with recommendations and surveillance strategies for improved surveillance systems that address emerging drug use, distribution patterns, and related behavioral health disorders.  For more information on the project, click here.

To learn more about work on substance abuse, visit the Center for State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ website.

 To read the final report, please click here.

Addressing Opioid Use in Pregnancy: Conversations and Next Steps in Blackfeet


Along with the rest of the United States, the Blackfeet Tribe has experienced an alarming rise in the use of opioids. To address the issue of opioid use in pregnancy, the Blackfeet Tribe recently gathered Tribal leaders, community members, and public health experts from across the country to explore how they can work together to best support good health in mothers and babies.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center, with consultation from Boston University and in partnership with Montana Healthcare Foundation, coordinated with Blackfeet Tribal leaders to arrange the conference. Topics included strategies that the Blackfeet community is taking to destigmatize drug use, ideas for outpatient treatment of opioid use from the Lummi Tribe of Washington and Project RESPECT of Boston Medical Center, and integrating Blackfeet cultural healing practices into the care approach.

Click here to read about the conference and learn more about this issue.

UPDATES:   RMTEC has received new funding from the Montana Healthcare Foundation to support their work with the Blackfeet tribe in combating opioid and other drug use among pregnant women on the Blackfeet Reservation.  From Plans to Action: Prevention and Support for Pregnant Blackfeet Women Using Opioids will follow up on a previous MHCF planning grant from 2016, which funded RMTEC and their Boston University-based partners to perform initial planning on opioid prevention among pregnant women on Blackfeet.

Click here to learn more about this new development.


RMTEC Publication: Diabetes Risk Factors in American Indian Youth

American Indian childhood obesity is a major public health problem in the United States. Of all demographic groups, American Indians have the highest prevalence of diabetes and other metabolic syndromes. In youth, obesity is often associated with an increased risk for type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic syndromes. Community programs and lifestyle strategies such as diet and exercise have been proven effective in decreasing rates of obesity in American Indian children.

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center sought to increase the capacity for tribes and tribal health departments to respond to the growing rates of childhood obesity and identify best-fit interventions.  Therefore, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center launched the Child Health Measures Project to address the rapidly increasing rates of childhood obesity among American Indian youth in Montana and Wyoming. More than More 26,000 American Indian youth aged 5-19 years participated in this initiative from 2007-2016. During this time period, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council – Tribal Epidemiology Center collected over 13,000 unique health measurements, including body mass index, weight, height, blood pressure, body image, and consumption of fruits and vegetables. The project sought to provide participating tribes with relevant child health measures data that described the risks and protective factors related to childhood obesity. Using the data collected during this initiative, RMTEC plans to work with these tribal communities to develop culturally appropriate programs that reduce American Indian childhood obesity.

To read the final report, please click here. 


Public Health Accreditation

As Native Americans experience some of the largest disparities in health status, disease prevalence and life expectancy in the nation, the importance of prioritizing public health to prevent disease. The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is a leading proponent supporting Tribes in building quality Tribal public health systems as a tool to combat these disparities and ensure healthy and thriving future generations. NIHB has released “Tribal Leaders’ Perspectives on Public Health Accreditation”, a new video featuring the voices of elected Tribal leaders and Tribal public health leaders across Indian Country on the significance of voluntary public health accreditation to the future health of Tribal communities.

Zika Virus

For information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the Zika Virus, please click here.

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