Culturally-Based Approaches to Addiction & Recovery in Indigenous Communities

Dr. Donald Warne with panelists: Hunter Genia, David Garcia, & Anna Winters


Equity Upstream Lecture 3: (May 25, 2023)

This virtual lecture by Dr. Donald Warne is the third training in the Equity Upstream Spring 2023 Lecture Series that Mid-State Health Network (MSHN) developed to increase awareness and understanding of health disparities in the national overdose epidemic. The Equity Upstream initiative focuses on upstream structural issues—systemic racism, implicit bias, access barriers and others—and seeks to catalyze action to increase equity in Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services, access, quality of care and outcomes for historically underserved populations. Focusing on Indigenous Americans, social determinants of health and historical trauma that has impacted Native American health outcomes, Dr. Warne’s presentation took place on May 25, 2023, via Zoom from the Center for Indigenous Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, and was followed by a panel discussion with Native American professionals in Michigan, David Garcia (American Indian Health  & Family Services), Hunter Genia (former Behavioral Health Director, Saginaw Chippewa Tribe) and Anna Winters (Peer 360 Recovery Alliance).


​​​​​​Donald Warne, MD, MPH is an acclaimed physician and one of the world’s preeminent scholars in Indigenous health, health education, policy and equity. He is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. He is the Co-Director of Johns Hopkins University’s  Center for Indigenous Health and is Johns Hopkins’ Provost Fellow for Indigenous Health Policy. Dr. Warne comes from a long line of traditional healers and medicine men and is a celebrated researcher of chronic health inequities. He is also  an educational leader who created the first Indigenous health-focused Master of Public Health and PhD programs in the U.S. or Canada at the North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota, respectively. Dr. Warne previously served at the University of North Dakota as professor of Family and Community Medicine and associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as Director of the Indians Into Medicine and Public Health programs at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He served the Pima Indian population in Arizona as a primary care physician and later worked as a staff clinician with the NIH. He has also served as Health Policy Research director for the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and faculty member at the Indian Legal Program of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Dr. Warne has received many awards recognizing his research accomplishments, educational leadership, and service work, including the American Public Health Association’s Helen Rodríguez-Trías Award for Social Justice and the Explorer’s Club 50 People Changing the World. Warne received a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University, Doctor of Medicine degree from Stanford University’s School of Medicine, and a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 

Hunter Genia, LMSW, is Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River Bands of Chippewa and also Grand River Band of Ottawa. He has worked for his Anishinabek people in Michigan for the last three decades addressing the social and health challenges and stressors impacting individuals, families, and communities. Hunter has trained multiple Michigan departments on several topics ranging from historical trauma, effective tribal community prevention strategies, cultural awareness, mental health, and substance use disorder prevention. Hunter has also directed tribal behavioral health programs for outpatient and inpatient services.


David Garcia, LMSW ACSW, is Behavioral Health Director & Cultural Services Coordinator at American Indian Health & Family Services (AIHFS) in Detroit. He is of Native American and Mexican American heritage. His father is from the Lipan Apache Tribe of Southern Texas. His mother is from Mexico and would be related to the Tarahumara Tribe of Copper Canyon, Mexico. He has his bachelor’s and master’s in social work from Michigan State University.  His journey on the Red Road began in June of 1994 and he practices the Lakota Teachings of Spirituality. He has been privileged to have participated in teachings and ceremonies with Elders from the Dakotas, Minnesota, Texas, Canada, Central America, the Andes and the Amazon. He is a Fire Keeper, a Carrier of the Chanupa (sacred pipe), and Sundance Leader. David has received ceremonial teachings and is able to perform the Inipi (sweat lodge) ceremony and Hanblecheya (vision quest) ceremony. Dave grew up in a Mexican community in Saginaw until he was 5 when his family moved to rural Chesaning (Ojibway for big rock). Dave has over 28 years of sobriety and believes that through indigenous teachings and ceremonies, we can help heal the indigenous people and Mother Earth. He feels that these teachings and ceremonies can help all the people of Maka (mother earth) Dave’s idea of a vacation is to travel and spend a week with an elder participating in ceremony. Aho Mitakuye Oyasin (All My relations). 


Anna Winters is a person in long-term recovery. She is a federally recognized tribal member of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, in Wisconsin. She is recognized by the State of Michigan as a Certified Peer Recovery Coach. Anna works for Peer 360 Recovery Alliance as the Isabella County Tribal Community Coordinator, in Mount Pleasant, MI. Anna has four children, they are of the utmost importance to her and have been the biggest motivation for her in her recovery journey. She believes that "Culture is Prevention" and honors a "Culture 1st" approach when supporting others in their journey to recovery. Learning to walk the "Red Road" is a lifelong commitment she continues to strive for. I would like to acknowledge my ancestors and introduce myself in Anishinaabemowin, which is my Native language: Boozhoo Indanawemaaganidoog! Ozhaawaashko Nimkee Ikwe indizhinikaaz. Mkwa ndoodem. Odaawaa Zaagaa'iganing indoonjibaa. Miigwech kina-gego gii naadimooyin.


Other Lectures in the Series

Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD – When Systems Damage People: Anti-Racism Lessons for Battling the Opioid Epidemic (2022-2023 Leverhulme Professor in Global Health & Social Medicine, King's College, London)

Haner Hernandez, PhD, CPS, CADCII, LADCI –​ Building Health Equity: A Social Justice Approach to the Opioid Epidemic in Hispanic/Latiné Communities (Master Trainer, Addiction Technology Transfer Center) & panelists: Dr. Isabel Montemayor-Vazquez, Feliz Rodriguez, & José Salinas

Larke Huang, PhD – Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Opioid Crisis: A Perspective from SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity (Director, Office of Behavioral Health Equity, SAMHSA) & panelists: Dr. Allison Lin & Dr. Lara Coughlin (UofM’s Dept of Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine)