In an announcement made in late 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) named the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians one of eight recipients of its 2015 Culture of Health award. The honor, which carries a $25,000 cash prize, recognizes communities that are working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live a longer, healthier, more productive life. Every year, RWJF selects up to ten Culture of Health winners from a pool of applicants. To be considered, communities must apply a broad definition of “health,” commit to sustainable system changes and long-term solutions, emphasize equal opportunity for health, and have a process in place for measuring and sharing progress and results.
The Lac du Flambeau Tribe, which is the only Culture of Health winner from the Ninth Federal Reserve District, was recognized for applying a holistic approach to health in order to combat widespread drug and alcohol abuse on its 2,000-resident reservation in northern Wisconsin. The tribe has implemented a program called ENVISION, which immerses at-risk middle school students in Ojibwe cultural activities, and holds Ojibwe language classes that involve youth in traditional tasks, such as wild rice harvesting. The tribe has also made numerous physical improvements to promote health, such as building a dental clinic and a fitness center, refurbishing a playground in the town center, and creating a residential treatment facility for people who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
RWJF is a national foundation with a mission to improve the health and health care of all Americans. Its seven other 2015 Culture of Health prize winners are Everett, Mass.; Lawrence, Mass.; The Bronx, N.Y.; Spartanburg County, S.C.; Bridgeport, Conn.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Menominee Nation, Wis.