We live in an interesting time. A movement against facing the truth of US history and acknowledging the existence of systemic racism is sweeping through many parts of our country. Colonization is embedded in that history—European settlements of the 17th and 18th centuries are referred to as colonies. The original inhabitants of what is now the United States migrated to this region between 40,000 to 14,000 years ago. It is these first peoples who are Indigenous and became what we now call American Indian/Alaska Native peoples in the United States and First Nations populations in Canada. Indigenous Peoples have oral histories that confirm eons of existence in relationship with place, and we should be respectful that many Indigenous cultures have their own belief systems regarding creation and the origins of their populations.

For Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, the creation of borders that have been imposed upon tribal nations has led to a tremendous loss of land, natural resources, culture, food systems, language, economies, and a thousand generations of traditional knowledge.

In the face of these adversities, Indigenous Peoples of the Americas still exist, and many of our communities are healing and thriving. I was fortunate to grow up in a family with many traditional healers and cultural leaders. As a physician and public health professional, these formative traditional values and beliefs have guided my personal journey toward promoting equity. And, if we are ever to achieve equity, we must walk through truth, even when it is difficult or challenging.

This series of essays lifts up the idea of learning across borders. While solutions often have no borders, unfortunately problems operate the same way. Colonizers brought both arbitrary borders and a whole host of problems to Indigenous communities in the Americas. Despite this and because of the resilience of Indigenous peoples, they are developing solutions to benefit their communities and maybe even those surrounding them.

Read the full article about Indigenous communities and community health by Donald Warne at Stanford Social Innovation Review.