Center for Indigenous Research, Collaboration, Learning, & Excellence (CIRCLE)

About Us

The Center for Indigenous Research, Collaboration, Learning, & Excellence (CIRCLE) at the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations is a clinical research and outreach partnership between the Healing Lodge and the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. Members of CIRCLE created xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health. Our Strategic Plan

can be found here

Mission

Foster sustainable health within our indigenous communities by engaging in culturally grounded intentional training, education, and tribal participatory research that embraces indigenous healing practices and revitalizes cultural connection and spiritual balance.

Vision

We envision strong, healthy indigenous communities empowered to support one another’s overall wellness, connection, and balance of mind, heart, and spirit.

NARCH: Native American Research Centers for Health

The Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program supports CIRCLE’s xaʔtu̓s for mental health training and research activities. Other CIRCLE funding has included a seed grant from the International Center for Responsible Gaming (Risk and Resilience among Native American Youth in the Pacific Northwest). The National Institute of Health (NIH) has awarded us three 4/5-year NARCH grants to support our research and capacity-building work at the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations.

  • Promoting Cultures of Recovery in Tribal Communities (NARCH VII) was funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences and Indian Health Services; Grant No. GM110789-01; 2014-2019). This phase of our work included strengths and needs assessment for Tribal youth in recovery among seven Tribal nations in the northwest.
  • Building Cultures of Recovery in Tribal Communities (NARCH X) is funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Institute on Drug Abuse; Grant No. 1S06GM128015; 2018 – 2023). This phase of our work involves developing a new first-response training and intervention program called xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health.
  • Assessing Cultures of Recovery in Tribal Communities (NARCH XII) is funded by the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institute of Mental Health, and National Institute on Drug Abuse; Grant No. 1S06GM146095; 2022 – 2026). This phase of our work will include capacity building at the Healing Lodge, community-based evaluations of xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health, and innovative research at the Healing Lodge to support long-term recovery and help those leaving the Healing Lodge avoid a return to use.

Meet the Team

Dr. Martina Whelshula, a research consultant to the Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations, leads our team. Our vision for this work is for CIRCLE to be the leading innovator and resource center for cooperative learning and research opportunities that facilitate healthy indigenous communities across the United States.

CIRCLE is grateful to the numerous individuals who are representing the Seven Nations for providing us with their advice and insight about our work through participation in the xaʔtu̓s for Mental Health working group. 

Martina Whelshula, PhD
Member: Arrow Lakes Nation of the Colville Confederated Tribes

Principal Investigator
Heather Gray, PhD
Director of Academic Affairs at the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance 

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
Sarah Nelson, PhD
Director of Research at the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance 

Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School
Debi LaPlante, PhD
Director of the Division on Addiction at Cambridge Health Alliance 

Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School
Melinda Bowman, EdD
Program & Support Services Manager at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations

Manager, Center for Indigenous Research Collaboration, & Learning Excellence
Donell Barlow
Member: Ottawa/Otter Clan and Yurok

Training & Research Coordinator at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations
Hannah Tomeo
Member: Colville, Yakima, Nez Perce, Samoan

Training & Research Coordinator at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations
Jennifer Folayan
Descendant: Pueblo (Kewa), Cherokee, and Aztec 

Training & Research Coordinator at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations
Raisa Jones
Member: Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina

Training & Research Coordinator at The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations

Our Partners

This research and training could not be possible without the support of numerous Tribal Nations, Tribal Organizations, and Research partners. 
Our 2023 working group advisory committee includes the following individuals. We are grateful for their contributions to our efforts. 
  • Ashton Pickard, Nez Perce
  • Ryan Oatman, Nez Perce
  • Saydele Haynes, Kalispel
  • Nathan Piengkham, Kalispel
  • Veronica Redstar, Colville
  • Dan Nanamkin, Colville
  • Ashley Atkins, Colville
  • Lindsey Holt, Coeur d'Alene
  • Jeanie Louie, Coeur d'Alene
  • Cody Cimmiyotti, Umatilla
  • Penny Spencer, Spokane
  • Margo Hill, Spokane
  • Jennifer Dickison, Kootenai
  • Faith Zacherle Tonasket, Colville
  • Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations
  • Cambridge Health Alliance Division on Addiction, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital
  • Coeur d’Alene Tribe
  • Confederated Tribes of the Colville
  • Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
  • Kalispel Tribe of Indians
  • Kootenai Tribe of Idaho
  • Nez Perce Tribe
  • Spokane Tribe of Indians

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