Native American Heritage Month honors and celebrates the rich cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. We would like to draw attention to challenges Native American communities face in the present but also highlight valuable knowledge and advancements deriving from these communities: Native American cultures have a deep understanding of the medical properties of nature. Traditional medicine practices including natural products have been instrumental in preserving community well-being.
Native Americans are improving healthcare not only for their communities but also for global healthcare. We encourage efforts to address healthcare disparities and ensure equal access to quality care for all.
Christine B. Vining, PhD. CCC-SLP
Tribal Affiliation – Navajo (Diné)
Rio Rancho, NM
Mark Guiberson, Ph.D. CCC-SLP
Division of Communication Disorders
University of Wyoming
Can you describe your experience working on the review article "Language and Literacy Strategies for Indigenous Children: A Scoping Review"? And what were the most important lessons learned?
Vining and Guiberson: This comprehensive scoping review revealed the limited body of research available describing language and literacy interventions specifically designed for Indigenous children. It was truly wonderful to discover pockets of high-quality work in this field. As we delved into the available literature, we successfully crafted a preliminary evidence map and identified 28 compelling language and literacy strategies. These strategies offer invaluable insights and practical applications that can be customized to meet the unique needs of Indigenous children.
One of the paramount lessons learned from this undertaking was the importance of avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach and, instead, embracing an abundance model. It reaffirmed our belief that interventions must be as diverse and dynamic as the communities they aim to serve.
Why do you believe Native American Heritage Month is important?
Vining and Guiberson: Native American Heritage Month, observed in November, stands as a crucial occasion to acknowledge the contributions of Native Americans and celebrate Native cultures, languages, and traditions. It serves as a platform to share stories about Native histories, lifeways, and cultures. Across Native communities, educational programs that highlight tribal culture and history create opportunities for dialogue and foster an increased understanding of issues that are of concern to Native communities.
Are there Indigenous individuals who have inspired you? Please describe how.
Vining: There are several Native American SLPs who entered the profession in the early 1980s. These Native SLPs led the way in increasing awareness of a profession that was otherwise unknown to Native youth exploring career options. Because they stayed and completed graduate school, grant opportunities became available for me and others to enter the profession. The American Indian Training Program at the University of Arizona supported many students to complete their undergraduate and graduate degrees in speech-language pathology and audiology.
Why do you think it is important for Indigenous people to be involved in the field of speech-language pathology?
Vining and Guiberson: The involvement of individuals from Indigenous backgrounds in the field of speech-language pathology is essential to promote the profession, support recruitment and retention efforts, and contribute to the growing body of knowledge in various communication disorders. Creating awareness of the SLP profession in Indigenous communities and actively participating in professional development opportunities can support community engagement, workforce development, and the advancement of the field.
What are your hopes for the future for members of the Indigenous community? What can positively impact change for the better?
Vining: As an SLP professional working with Indigenous populations in rural and underserved communities, it is imperative that we engage with these communities to enhance service delivery. We must support coordinated efforts to make our services accessible, provide culturally and linguistically responsive services, and integrate feedback from community stakeholders to improve education and systems of care.
What kind of articles do you enjoy reading in Seminars in Speech and Language?
Guiberson: I genuinely appreciate reading both review articles and tutorial articles featured in Seminars in Speech and Language. Review articles offer a comprehensive overview of the current state of research in a specific area, shedding light on the latest developments in the diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disabilities. Tutorial articles are equally invaluable as they delve into the practical aspects of clinical treatment, providing insights and procedures to follow. I find that both review and tutorial articles in Seminars in Speech and Language significantly contribute to my professional growth and my ability to mentor others in our field.
Is there any specific area in which you would like to see more articles published?
Vining and Guiberson: In general, there is a shortage of research describing language and literacy treatment approaches for children with language disabilities or at-risk populations. Even more striking is the limited availability of articles describing interventions tailored to the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse children, such as Indigenous children and Dual Language Learners. We would greatly appreciate seeing more articles and, perhaps, even entire issues dedicated to these critical topics.
It is our pleasure to provide free access to our article resources below. These articles address epilepsy control in isolated regions, literacy strategies for Indigenous children, polycystic ovary syndrome among Indigenous women, respectful use of traditional knowledge, and the strengthening of Indigenous communities.