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Existing data indicates that the Blackfeet Indian community and other American Indian tribes are at a higher risk for chronic disease, mental illness, and shorter life expectancy, when compared to their white/caucasian counterparts. In other racial/ethnic, similar health disparities have been linked  social connectedness, yet no such research has been conducted within the Blackfeet Indian community. This goal of this project is to investigate whether measure of social connectedness in the Blackfeet Indian community relate to indices of mental and cardio metabolic health. The results of this study will be used as a basic foundation for conducting future research concerning psychosocial resilience factors for promoting health in American Indians, as well as for informing community-level interventions aimed at improving social relations within the Blackfeet community. This research is supported by an RO1 grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institute of Health under award number R01MD015894. 

Meet the Team

Neha John-Henderson

Faculty Lead Investigator, Montana State

Betty Matthews-Henderson

Faculty Lead Investigator, BFCC

Betty Henderson-Matthews is the chair of Math/Science at Blackfeet Community College located on the Blackfeet Reservation.  Seven years ago, she partnered with MSU and the Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence and began her research journey. Over the past seven years, she and her interns have been developing the idea that Blackfeet People need to be tied to the Blackfeet culture and spiritual places.  Our hypothesis has always been that it would make Blackfeet people healthier physically and mentally.

Skye Gilham

Project Coordinator, BFCC

Skye was born and raised on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. This allowed her to follow her interests and graduate in 2005, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology/Criminology and Forensic Anthropology. Skye returned home and has continued working in various capacities for her community. She was appointed to the Montana State Burial Board in 2010, where she has consulted on various cases of the repatriation of human remains and funerary items. She served for several years as the Vice-Chairperson of the board. Ms. Gilham has been an instructor at BFCC since 2005, where she teaches Sociology and Forensics, and pursues her passion in the research of genetics and health. She is currently pursuing a Master of Education degree in Learning and Technology, which will be completed by January 2023.

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Tony Crowder

Project Coordinator, Montana State

Originally from Springfield, Missouri, Tony graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Science in Psychology, with an emphasis in the Industrial-Organizational track. Tony has participated in undergraduate and graduate-level research, provided consulting services on various community health projects and has taught sections of psychological statistical methods and research methods for the behavioral sciences as per course and adjunct faculty at Missouri State and Drury University in Springfield. 

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