Success Stories

Success Stories

GPTEC Success Story: Promoting Healing Through Self-Defense: A Response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Crisis

Success Stories
The issue of violence in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities is of growing concern. In 2016, the National Institute of Justice reported that more than four out of five AI/AN women and men experience violence in their lifetime.¹ Particularly alarming, are the rates of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls (MMIWG). In the same year, the National Crime Information Center reported there were 5,712 cases of MMIWG, with only 106 having been logged into a Department of Justice Database.²

In response to this growing crisis, the Great Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center (GPTEC) hosted a self-defense training in partnership with Arming Sisters. Arming Sisters is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 by Patty Stonefish. Patty comes from a long line of matriarchs – Lakota, Russian, and Polish. She has over a decade of martial arts experience.


Patty’s day-long training covered topics of self-care, MMIWG, violence against Native American women, body language awareness, trusting intuition, vocalization, and stress responses. She also taught six self-defense moves. All these topics and moves were presented with an emphasis on healing and harnessing the power within oneself.


GPTEC received an overwhelming response to offering this training, with twenty tribal community members and GPTEC employees ultimately participating. This has garnered significant interest at the tribal level, with multiple additional trainings being planned in the future. Utilization of GPTEC funds to support implementation of this training also supported provision of the training in settings where funds are unavailable.

1. Rosay, A. B. (2016). Violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women and men. National Institute of Justice Journal, 277.
2. Lucchesi, A., Echo-Hawk, A. (2019). Missing and murdered indigenous women & girls. Our Bodies, Our Stories.

Patty Stonefish, founder of Arming Sisters
Patty Stonefish, founder of Arming Sisters

Arming Sisters logo For more about Arming Sisters, or to contact Patty:





GLITEC Success Story: Resource Patient Management System Training

Success Stories, TEC News
Bemidji Area Tribes were some of the first to exercise their right to participate in PL-93-638 and only three of the thirty-four federally-recognized Tribes have Indian Health Service (IHS) Service Units. In a 2017 survey that GLITEC conducted among Bemidji Area IHS, Tribally-operated, or urban Indian health programs (ITUs), the 2nd most commonly used EHR/EMR was RPMS and survey respondents described wanting Resource Patient Management System (RPMS) training and education.

In April 2019, the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center co-hosted a RPMS training for Bemidji Area I/T/U clinical staff with the IHS regional Bemidji Area Office.


Eighty-seven percent of participants “agreed” or “strongly agreed” (n=15) that the training was valuable.


This training was made possible through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Building Public Health Infrastructure in Tribal Communities program.





NEC Success Story: Navajo TECPHI welcomes Delores Becenti

Success Stories, TEC News

Navajo TECPHI Initiatives:

  • Build Navajo Epidemiology Center’s technological infrastructure to support future endeavors of effective health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Implement a Data Management Plan to increase data quality, integrity, procedures and security.
  • Increase the communication channels of NEC to tribal leaders, stakeholders, governmental agencies, and communities.


These initiatives were identified by Delores Becenti, the new Senior Programs and Projects Specialist for the Navajo Epidemiology Center for the Navajo TECPHI Cooperative Agreement.


Delores Becenti started on March 18th, 2019 and she has provided assistance with her background in data management, information technology and more specifically, Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS will play a role in providing access to communities with internet access and provide geographic data analysis. Delores has created web maps for public consumption and envisions similar products for the Navajo Epidemiology Center.

She was also an Injury Prevention Specialist with the Indian Health Service for the Fort Defiance District (26 Navajo Nation Chapters or local governments) for 9 years before returning to GIS to improve and increase her skills with GIS. As an Injury Prevention Specialist she has learned community-based project management with very small budgets and implementing comprehensive projects with evaluation and measures. She learned to “sell” her program as she was the only role in advocating for Injury Prevention to a sea of Environmental Health Specialists, community leaders, Injury Prevention stakeholders, and upper management. Indian Health Service provided many trainings and experiences in all aspects of a community-based injury prevention program. Of her many successful projects at the Fort Defiance District, she has facilitated injury prevention coalition meetings, implemented evaluations of fall prevention, passenger safety, and outreach activities, implemented surveys of passenger safety use, provided technical assistance in the passing of an updated Navajo Nation child passenger law, and maintained the severe injury data surveillance database. She has collaborated with various programs to partner in injury prevention efforts and leverage resources for under-funded objectives.

She is excited to work in the field of epidemiology as her interest grew after taking graduate courses at the University of Michigan in Epidemiology during an Injury Prevention Fellowship program.

Delores Becenti, Senior Programs and Projects Specialist for the Navajo Epidemiology Center.




RMTEC Success Story: A Matter of Balance

Success Stories, TEC News

Elderly Fall Prevention

The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Epidemiology Center (RMTEC) has been working with the IHS Billings Area Office to implement an evidence-based program entitled A Matter of Balance, as a part of Elderly Fall Prevention.


A Matter of Balance program includes both an education and exercise component and is designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults who have concerns about falls.


In November 2018, an employee from each office attended a training to become A Matter of Balance Master Trainers. As Master Trainers, their role is to train volunteer coaches in the Tribal communities, who will then go on to facilitate A Matter of Balance classes in their communities.

Recently, the Master Trainers held their first coach training, and six volunteers became certified as A Matter of Balance Coaches. These coaches plan to start their classes in late spring or early summer. The Master Trainers are excited to train more volunteers in the other Tribal communities and plan to have A Matter of Balance Coaches trained in each site by the end of summer 2019.

Elderly Fall PreventionKaylee Vandjelovic, Public Health Specialist at RMTEC and one of the Master Trainers, discussing A Matter of Balance program during the coach training.

Elderly Fall PreventionThe six new volunteer coaches with the Master Trainers, after completing the two-day training and earning their certificates.




NWTEC Success Story: Defining State Health Priorities

Success Stories, TEC News

NWTEC Assists with Involvement of AI/AN People in Defining State Health Priorities

The Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (NWTEC) partnered with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to gather input on top health issues that are most important to American Indian/Alaska Native residents of Oregon. Feedback from residents helped informed a community-based steering committee at OHA pick the top five priorities in February 2019 for Oregon’s 2020-2024 State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP).


A total of 215 survey responses were collected in a two-month period, which provided an oversampling of AI/AN residents when combined with responses to a similar survey created by OHA.


Over 95% of respondents from NWTEC’s survey indicated that they were enrolled members of a federally recognized tribe, with 60% of these respondents being enrolled members of an Oregon tribe. Respondents also represented a degree of geographic variance, as over half of Oregon’s counties were represented. Although health priorities could shift slightly when analyzing results by demographic characteristics, the top priorities remained relatively stable across the board. These top priorities selected were:

  1. Safe, affordable housing
  2. Access to mental health care
  3. Substance use
  4. Adverse childhood/life experiences (ACE/ALEs), trauma, and toxic stress
  5. Living wage
  6. Obesity
  7. Suicide

These priorities of AI/AN residents closely match the five priorities that were selected by OHA’s steering committee, which includes:

  1. Behavioral health (substance use, suicide, and access to mental health care)
  2. Economic drivers of health (food insecurity, housing, transportation, living wage)
  3. Adversity, trauma, and toxic stress (ACE/ALEs)
  4. Equitable access to care
  5. Institutional bias across private and public entities

Since AI/AN people were underrepresented in the community input that OHA used to write the current health plan (2015-2019 SHIP), targeted outreach by NWTEC and community participation helped insure that Native voices were clearly heard during the planning process.

If you have any questions or would like more information about NWTEC or Oregon’s SHIP process, please contact Taylor Ellis at

NWTEC Health Priorities graph
NWTEC Health Priorities chart