Over 4 million residents of the United States can claim American Indian or Alaska Native ancestry, in whole or in part. 1 Though far from a homogeneous population, with over 500 tribes, most American Indians are drawn together by core values such as an emphasis on spirituality, a recognition of the sacredness of all living things, and respect for the land and the natural world in general. 2 The many American Indian subpopulations are culturally distinctive, diverse, and complex; they are living on nearly 300 reservations in the lower 48 states, and speak more than 300 different languages. 3
The American Indians' diversity, coupled with their small population groups scattered throughout the United States, has made it difficult to provide a uniform, readily accessible health care system. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American Indians, with malignant neoplasms the second most frequent cause among females and accidents the second most frequent cause among males. 4 Recent statistics show Native Americans 2.6 times more likely to have diabetes mellitus as non-Hispanic whites of similar age. Other causes of greater than average mortality include tuberculosis, suicide, pneumonia, influenza and homicide. Finally, deaths attributable to alcoholism are also alarmingly high among American Indians. 5
This Web resource on American Indian Health, sponsored by the National Library of Medicine, is designed to bring together health and medical resources pertinent to the American Indian population including policies, consumer health information, and research. Links are provided here to an assortment of documents, Web sites, databases, and other resources.
The American Indian Health Web site is designed to bring together health and medical resources focused on the American Indian population. It includes links to evaluated health information from an assortment of resources, Web sites, and databases.
Much of the information is easy to understand including sites that are designed for children and elders, and there are also links to sites with stories of Indian people and their experiences with health problems and ways of wellness. In addition, there are links to research and data suitable for a variety of users.Pre-formulated PubMed/MEDLINE searches are available under different health topics, and they provide links to the latest in medical research involving American Indians. Often it is possible to read entire journal articles.
Health on this Web site is used in its broadest sense, and includes physical, mental, social / cultural, and environmental aspects. Research encompasses basic, applied, laboratory, and community, as well as research conducted in partnerships with community groups.
1 The Census
2000 Brief on American Indian and Alaska Native Population
2 Federally Recognized Indian Tribes, Federal
Register, March 13, 2000
3 Native Americans: Women of Color Health
4 Trends in Indian Health 1998-99
5 Diabetes in American Indians and Alaska