How health is defined and assessed is a priority concern for Indigenous peoples due to considerable health risks faced from environmental impacts to homelands, and because what is “at risk” is often determined without their input or approval. Many health assessments by government agencies, industry, and researchers from outside the communities fail to include Indigenous definitions of health and omit basic methodological guidance on how to evaluate Indigenous health, thus compromising the quality and consistency of results. Native Coast Salish communities (Washington State, USA) developed and pilot-tested a set of Indigenous Health Indicators (IHI) that reflect non-physiological aspects of health (community connection, natural resources security, cultural use, education, self-determination, resilience) on a community scale, using constructed measures that allow for concerns and priorities to be clearly articulated without releasing proprietary knowledge. Based on initial results from pilot-tests of the IHI with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (Washington State, USA), we argue that incorporation of IHIs into health assessments will provide a more comprehensive understanding of Indigenous health concerns, and assist Indigenous peoples to control their own health evaluations.
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