Celebrating Native American Communities



Native American communities face extremely high rates of overweight, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.



Every child deserves opportunities to move more and eat healthier, whether he or she lives in an inner-city neighborhood, a rural countryside, or on a reservation. This is especially true for Native American communities facing these health disparities. In 2012, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Notah Begay III Foundation dove deeper into issues related to obesity and type 2 diabetes in Native youth, paving the way for our work in these communities, particularly within the Navajo Nation. Today, because of generous support from the JPB Foundation and Cellular One, our Healthy Schools Program is working with the Bureau of Indian Education and over 200 schools with predominantly Native American populations to make these disparities history.


Connecting Activity and Academics in South Dakota


North Elementary located on Rosebud Reservation in Todd County, South Dakota is a Let’s Move! Active School. Let’s Move! Active Schools is a national collaboration between the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and SHAPE America, with support from the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education. During the 2013-2014 school year, North Elementary used Let’s Move! Active Schools to implement a school-wide effort to get students moving. Since then, math and reading scores have improved, and students are more focused. Watch the video above to learn more about North Elementary’s success.


Supporting Tradition and Health in New Mexico


The high rates of obesity facing Native American communities become very apparent when looking at high school students in New Mexico. Schools in the state are working to reverse these rates with healthier environments that support their kids and their culture.  


Active Classes with Active Culture

Chee Dodge in Yatehey, New Mexico, which has a 98 percent Navajo student population, joined the Healthy Schools Program in 2010. Staff utilized the PE professional development and activity resources provided in our program and now offers a daily Navajo culture and language class where students play active games, dance, and walk or run on the outdoor trail.

Read Their Story

Fitness Videos for Your Class

Traditional Meals, Healthier Ingredients

Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has an 89 percent Native American population. To support health, innovative staff created healthy school recipes to pass on traditional meals to students by teaching them to prepare dishes with a focus on nutritious ingredients like squash, corn, green chili, garlic, and onions.

Read Their Story

Healthy Recipes for Your School

Celebrating Success and Building Momentum Nationwide


Native American schools and communities around the nation are being recognized for the innovative ways they are creating a healthier generation for their young people. And success means momentum – momentum that can support others with new proven practices to adopt in their environments. 


National Success

This year, for the first time in our Healthy Schools Program’s history, a school located on a reservation, Monument Valley High School in Kayenta, Arizona, joined us at our 2014 Leaders Summit to receive our National Healthy Schools Award. Monument Valley used our Smart Snack tools and professional development for nutrition to meet federal standards while using our employee wellness tools to create a culture of wellness for their staff.

Serve Smart Snacks Improve Employee Wellness

Gardening at the White House

STAR Charter School, near the Southwest corner of the Navajo Nation, has made incredible changes in nutrition after working with our Program Manager to meet standards. The school now sources 23 percent of its produce locally and hopes to increase that with a greenhouse program. On October 14, their efforts were recognized nationally as five STAR students joined Michelle Obama at the White House Garden to harvest fall vegetables.

Create a Healthier Lunchroom Find Healthy Foods

Advice from a Navajo Student Leader

”In my culture children are seen as very wise people and what we say has value. But it seems that most programs here are focused on the older people rather than the younger generation. I think there needs to be an equal balance because we are supposed to be the future.”

Danyel Marie Johnson served three terms as a National Youth Ambassador for the Alliance. It’s not age or experience that makes Danyel such a powerful inspiration in her school and community – it’s her unfaltering determination to create a healthier future for her generation.


“Tribes need to recognize that if they want a strong community where language and culture can survive then they need to address the health issues to ensure that the next generation will live long, healthy lives to carry on these traditions.”


–      Kristyn Yepa, former Chief Health and Wellness Programs Officer, Notah Begay III Foundation