by Ken Lokensgard, Assistant Director, Center for Native American Research & Collaborations


In February, Native American Programs collaborated with Native American Health Sciences and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to bring physician and actor Evan Adams to the Spokane Health Sciences Campus.

Dr. Adams is a member of the Tla’amin First Nation in British Columbia. He first came to the public’s attention by playing Thomas Builds-The-Fire, in the 1998 film Smoke Signals. Adams went on to earn an MD, as well as a Master’s of Public Health. He is currently the Chief Medical Officer of the First Nations Health Authority, in British Columbia.

group photo
L-R: Pre-Health students Amaya Pelagio, Emma Stewart, Colton Poplawski, Emely Rodas, and Aaron Burns surround Dr. Evan Adams.

The primary purpose of this visit was to have Dr. Adams meet with members of the Native American Pre-Health program, which is administered by Native American Programs. Dr. Adams also met with the leadership of the College of Medicine and shared his advice about supporting Native American students pursuing health degrees and working with Native American communities.

After spending the afternoon of February 8 with students, administrators and faculty, Dr. Adams gave a public presentation at the Spokane Convention Center, entitled “Nothing About Us Without Us.” Dr. Daryll Dewald, Chancellor of WSU Spokane, welcomed Dr. Adams to the stage, and Dr. Zoe Higheagle Strong (Nimiipuu), WSU Executive Director of Tribal Relations, introduced him to the public.

Adams spoke about the need for Native American health professionals to maintain their cultural identities as well the need for the health institutions to be more inclusive of those who do so. Following the keynote, Dr. Adams visited with members of the audience, during a public reception.

This day was just one example of the support being directed toward Native students pursuing degrees and, eventually, careers in the health professions and sciences. Native Programs looks forward to many future events.

We appreciate the hard work that Dr. Naomi Bender (Quechua), Director of Native Health Sciences, put into coordinating Dr. Adams’ visit. Additionally, we are grateful for the assistance of Vice Dean Dr. Ken Roberts, Assoc. Dean Dr. Leila Harrison, Asst. Dean David Garcia, and their staff members. Finally, we also thank Dr. Leslie Randall (Nimiipuu) and C.W. Hall, MD (Amskapipiikani) for visiting with students and faculty on the day of Dr. Adams’ visit.

If you have any questions about the Native American Pre-Health Program, contact Dr. Ken Lokensgard, Assistant Director, Center for Native American Research & Collaborations.