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Episode #158: Interview with Chris TallBear, Oklahoma Tribal Epidemiology Center


Interview with Chris TallBear, Oklahoma Tribal Epidemiology Center


On this episode, you’ll meet Chris TallBear with the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center, and hear about his amazing journey into public health. He is a talented storyteller and servant leader, providing value to his organization and community. You’ll also learn about the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center, which is just one of 12 partner Tribal Epidemiology Centers funded by the Indian Health Service’s Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention to assist in improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout the United States.


This episode is part of a special sponsored series of episodes. You’ll learn about the Tribal Epidemiology Centers, through my interviews with public health professionals working with the community at each of the centers.


Meet Chris TallBear


On this episode, you’ll meet Chris TallBear with the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center, and hear about his journey into public health. You’ll also learn about the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center, which is just one of 12 partner Tribal Epidemiology Centers funded by the Indian Health Service’s Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention to assist in improving the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout the United States.


The Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center Director, Tracy Prather, describes Chris as being “very well spoken, extremely knowledgeable, has a gift for storytelling and speaking truth. He is brilliant, accomplished and truly a humble servant and leader in our organization and communities.”


Now, that I’ve met Chris, I absolutely agree with her description.


During the interview, I found myself deeply engaged in his stories and hanging on every word. Some of the stories and cultural lessons were so similar to lessons I’ve learned from my ancestors. While some of what he talked about seemed familiar to me, the rest was truly eye-opening, inspiring, and educational.


Without a doubt, you will be able to see, and feel, his passion for his culture, his people, and the work that he’s doing with the Tribal Epidemiology Centers.


Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center


During the interview, you will hear Chris refer to the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board, which is a non-profit foundation established in 1972 to provide service to all tribes in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. In 2004, the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board was awarded with funds from the Indian Health Service, which created the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center.


The mission of the Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center is to improve the health of American Indian/Alaska Natives in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, by providing public health services in epidemiology, data management, data analysis, training, health promotion/disease prevention, and research through outreach and creative partnerships.


Listen To The Podcast Episode


Tribal Epidemiology Centers


Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TEC) are Indian Health Service (IHS), division funded organizations who serve American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribal and urban communities by managing public health information systems, investigating diseases of concern, managing disease prevention and control programs, responding to public health emergencies, and coordinating these activities with other public health authorities.

Tribal Epidemiology Centers provide various types of support and services due to the variation of the TECs organization structure, divisions, Tribal populations, and their mission and goals. There are currently 12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers in the United States.


Each month, one of the Tribal Epidemiology Centers will be featured here on the podcast. The purpose is to raise awareness throughout the public health community of the amazing and important public health work that is being done at each of the centers.


Chris's Career Advice and Tips

  • Learn to be uncomfortable with the uncomfortable. It's how we grow.

  • Believe, in yourself and in others.

  • Have a heart and be compassionate. It's cool to be a human!

  • Pray for others who are coming that they have a safe road here to be with us.

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