Our Story

‘Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.’

– Black Elk Speaks 1961

Seven Directions was born from a desire to create greater connectivity across the many tribes, communities and organizations that have the health and wellness of American Indian and Alaska Native people at the heart of what they do.

With support from a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Red Star International, Inc., an exploration began in 2011 to determine the value and desirability of an Indigenous focused public health institute (PHI). The exploration was guided by a national advisory board, and included strong Tribal engagement and outreach, coupled with a public health systems analysis and financial review.

After numerous round-tables, presentations and forums, the national advisory board concluded that an Indigenous PHI was feasible, and was greatly needed to create sustainable, systemic change to improve health outcomes in our communities. In August 2016, with support from a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Seven Directions emerged as the first national public health institute (PHI) in the United States to focus solely on Indigenous health and wellness.

Today, Seven Directions is a public non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with its own Board of Directors. Having given voice to the diverse needs across the country over five years, we are committed to uncovering opportunities for us to work ‘together like one being’ toward a shared vision and shared goals for our future generations.

Read about our journey: