The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians was recognized today with the Indian Health Service Portland Area Leadership Award for their extraordinary efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of American Indians and Alaska Natives through the hnqhesnet program . Hnqhesnet is a Coeur d'Alene word that means “it is our well-being.” The project received a three-year, $1.9 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. The program seeks to improve health in the community by promoting access to healthy, traditional foods and access to physical activity, with a cultural emphasis.
The program promotes the “qhest life,” meaning a good, healthy and traditional way of life. “The qhest life is the best life, because it’s life based on long-held traditions of health and wellness,” according to the tribal program.
The program encourages traditional foods as part of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. The program also invokes native traditions in increasing physical activity. Hunting, gathering, and migration were daily physical activities for Coeur d'Alene ancestors. The program encourages tribal members to honor their ancestry and echo those movements by getting 30 minutes of daily physical activity through walking, running, swimming, gym workouts, and traditional games and other activities.
Finally, the hnqhesnet program seeks to further honor traditions by encouraging respect of elders, preserving language, educating and empowering youth, and engaging in traditional community activities such as gardening, ceremonies, storytelling, and more.
The Portland Area is proud to recognize this innovative, culturally-relevant approach to improving community health through healthy eating and active lifestyles and honors the tribe in its support of the IHS mission to raise the physical, mental, social, and spiritual health of American Indians to the highest level.