The Center for Native Health & Culture at Heritage University was first conceptualized by President John Bassett and Yakama tribal member, Dr. Michelle Jacob. In a series of discussions during 2011 and 2012, Bassett and Jacob brainstormed ideas for increasing the capacity and visibility for research at Heritage. In the spring of 2012, Dr. Jacob visited the Heritage University main campus in Toppenish, WA, on the Yakama Reservation, to discuss the Center idea with a collective team of administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members. Discussions indicated widespread support to launch the new Center. Dr. Jacob began her work as a Faculty Fellow and Director of the Center for Native Health & Culture in July 2012. The Center for Native Health & Culture secured permanent office space at the main campus in Toppenish, WA during September 2012. The Center’s Grand Opening was held in October 2012. During the first semester of the Center’s existence, we worked on four separate research projects; submitted two conference presentation proposals, and engaged in a series of on-campus initiatives to help support interdisciplinary research dialogue.
The Center's graphic identity was designed to honor indigenous peoples and cultures. The pattern at the top of our logo honors the Klickitat basketry tradition. The three eagle feathers represent the holistic Native health philosophy of mind, body, and spirit. One cannot think merely of one aspect of health without considering how they impact the other two.
Our Center's motto was gifted to us by Dr. Virginia Beavert, longtime Heritage University faculty member and master Sahaptin/Ichishkíin speaker and teacher, as well as Yakama tribal elder.
Our motto is: Nákxtwishana pxwit, wáwnakwshash, ku wak’íshwit
(We are strengthening mind, body, and spirit).