Engaging Native American Populations

The Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research is engaging in strategies specifically focused on reaching Native American Nations, urban Tribal health care providers, and Native American and Alaska Native patients. These strategies include community-engaged education and focused partnerships with Tribal health care providers. The center's focuses include cancer, diabetes, brain science, mental health and wellness. Outreach is tailored to meet Tribal nation and urban Native health priorities in research, education and partnership requests.

Native American Research Outreach

The Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research seeks to build from the legacy of engagement paved by Judith S. Kaur, M.D., through programs such as Native CIRCLE, Spirit of Eagles, and cancer research and data in Native American communities. The Native American Research Outreach (NARO) program facilitates opportunities and support for research and program development focusing on partnerships with the 11 federally recognized Tribes and urban Indian Health Service facilities in Minnesota. NARO brings Mayo Clinic health care providers, educators and researchers together with Tribal and urban Native American populations in the Upper Midwest.

NARO's goals are to identify collaborative opportunities that meet the needs of Tribes and Native American people near Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The program connects health care providers who are interested in research, practice extension and educational support with the Healthy Nations Advisory Board or individual Tribal health care providers.

NARO recognizes each Tribe's inherent right to sovereignty, self-determination of health care, and research and data sovereignty. The program staff works to advance science, cultural knowledge and understanding of the health disparities experienced in Native communities surrounding Mayo Clinic.


Guthrie W. Capossela, MNM

Mayo Clinic-Native American program collaborations

Mayo Clinic works to engage and support Native American and Alaska Native patients, communities and Tribes through several collaborations:

  • NARO coordinators. The NARO staff includes Guthrie W. Capossela, MNM, a Mayo Clinic community engagement coordinator focused on Native American and Alaska Native populations, and Corinna V. Sabaque, M.P.H., senior research program coordinator. They are located at the Rochester, Minnesota, campus of Mayo Clinic and work closely with colleagues in health practice and education to support Tribal outreach, increase access for Native people, and provide support to Tribes and Tribal citizens while they actualize their treaty health rights.
  • Patient navigators. In 2021, the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center hired patient navigators to support Native American and Alaska Native patients as they receive care. NARO collaborates closely with these navigators to better understand the needs and current trends of Native American patients with cancer. The patient navigators are:

    • Trudie Jackson — Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona
    • Schyler A. Martin — Rochester, Minnesota
  • Dedicated spiritual space. Mayo Clinic has designated the Art Owen spiritual room, located in Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus, as a dedicated space for Native American and Alaskan Native people to pray or cleanse themselves during any inpatient stay. The room and other spiritual care needs are coordinated by Valerie A. Guimaraes, R.N., a Mayo Clinic patient experience ambassador who specializes in meeting the needs of Native American and Alaska Native patients, families and caregivers.
  • Medical school engagement. The Native American Pathways Program and Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine are supported by community engagement coordinator Marcy L. Averill. In her work, Ms. Averill supports K-12 and higher education programs offering participants pathways into health-related careers. She also supports the Marpiya te najin medical school scholarship and assists Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine with student and educational programming.


Marcy L. Averill Guthrie W. Capossela, MNM Valerie A. Guimaraes, R.N. Trudie Jackson Schyler A. Martin Corinna V. Sabaque, M.P.H.

Healthy Nations Advisory Board

NARO established the Healthy Nations Advisory Board to advise and educate Mayo Clinic staff members on the health priorities and concerns of Native nations and on urban Indian Health Service programs. Board members help Mayo Clinic identify, prepare and execute projects addressing the identified health priorities and concerns. Board meetings take place quarterly.

One purpose of the Healthy Nations Advisory Board is for Mayo Clinic to begin establishing relationships with Native health care providers and the networks that support their efforts. The board consists of Native health care providers, Native health care directors and Native health representatives. The members are located within the boundaries of the Northern Plains Region of the Indian Health Service.

If you are interested in a project or a relationship with any of the Tribal health care providers or have a proposal to present to the Healthy Nations Advisory Board, please contact Guthrie W. Capossela, MNM, the Center for Health Equity and Community-Engaged Research's community engagement coordinator dedicated to working with Native American and Alaska Native populations.


Guthrie W. Capossela, MNM

Indigenous Health Topics group

Indigenous Health Topics is the new name for the previous Native American Interest Group. The group hosts a speaker series focused on hosting local, regional and national experts in health, education and research to present on topics that have an impact on the Native American and Alaska Native communities. The meetings will be hosted monthly starting in the summer of 2022. There will be opportunities to attend in person and virtually. The in-person Indigenous Health Topics group will be hosted at the Rochester campus of Mayo Clinic.

If you're interested in a specific topic, would like to be added to the distribution list or have recommendations for guest speakers, please contact Corinna V. Sabaque, M.P.H., the senior research program coordinator organizing the group.

Watch videos of the Indigenous Health Topics speaker series.


Corinna V. Sabaque, M.P.H.