Seneca Nation receives health honor

IRVING — The Seneca Nation of Indians is one of eight winners of the 2017 RWJF Culture of Health Prize awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The prize honors communities for their unwavering efforts to ensure all residents have the opportunity to live healthier lives.

The Seneca Nation is being nationally recognized for pursuing innovative ideas and bringing partners together to rally around a shared vision of health. Chosen from more than 200 applicant communities across the country, the Seneca Nation’s award winning efforts include an all-encompassing approach to addressing physical, psychological, economic and environmental health concerns in the Seneca community.

“As a sovereign nation, we want to control our own destiny and provide a strong, healthy and vibrant nation for our younger generations,” said Seneca Nation President Todd Gates. “Foremost in our mind is the need to take care of our people and provide them the opportunities and services they need to be the best they can be. Health, for us, has to incorporate every aspect of life, because every aspect of life for the Seneca people has been under attack for generations. We want to make the Seneca Nation healthier and stronger than ever.”

“For the past five years, RWJF Culture of Health Prize communities have inspired hope across the country. We welcome these new eight Prize communities who are forging partnerships to improve health for their residents,” said Richard Besser, MD, RWJF president and CEO. “There are now 35 prize-winning communities across the country that are thinking big, building on their strengths, and engaging residents as equal partners to tackle the problems that they see.”

The Seneca Nation will receive a $25,000 cash prize, join a network of prize-winning communities and have their inspiring accomplishments shared throughout the nation. The other seven winning communities are: Algoma, Wis.,; Allen County, Kan.,; Chelsea, Mass.,; Garrett County, Md.; Richmond, Va.; San Pablo, Calif., and Vicksburg, Miss.

To become an RWJF Culture of Health Prize winner, the Seneca Nation had to demonstrate how it excelled in the following six criteria:

¯ Defining health in the broadest possible terms.

¯ Committing to sustainable systems changes and policy-oriented long-term solutions.

¯ Cultivating a shared and deeply-held belief in the importance of equal opportunity for health.

¯ Harnessing the collective power of leaders, partners, and community members.

¯ Securing and making the most of available resources.

¯ Measuring and sharing progress and results.

“This award helps the Seneca Nation continue along what has been a path for growth and restoration,” Gates said. “In just the last several years, we’ve built new on-territory health centers, re-introduced our traditional Seneca language in our Early Childhood and adult education programs, created job opportunities and skills training for our people, and taken a strong stance against drug and alcohol abuse in our community. That important work must continue.”

The Seneca Nation will join this year’s other Prize-winning communities at the Culture of Health Prize Celebration and Learning Event at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey on Oct. 11-12.

Learn more about the Seneca Nation’s work, as well as this year’s other prize winners through a collection videos, photos, and more at