Roswell Park's Dr. Rodney Haring was recently named to the Health Research Advisory Council, a federal panel that works with tribal leaders to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding Native health programs and policies.
Though his career and educational pursuits have taken him to many places, Dr. Haring continues to reside on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, allowing for a unique perspective on health care on the reservation.
"It's improved over time," Dr. haring said.
"I remember as a child we had our Indian Health Service...in basically a trailer."
Facilities have improved significantly.
Specialized care, in most cases, is contracted out, "but we have a full-fledged medical center and dental clinic."
With 550 federally-recognized Native tribes across the United States and another 500 or so in Canada, Dr. Haring admits that narrowing down the roots of Native health issues will not be easy.
Roswell Park Cancer Institute, he says, is among the leaders trying to identify the genetic connections between cancer and Native Americans.
Still, before the research can be successful "trust has to built with Nations, not only regionally here, but also across the country, to participate in some of these studies."
Dr. Haring is conducting research under two separate grants at this time, one of which explores the connection between cancer and obesity among Native populations.
Health care has improved tremendously through the years. Those improvements, however, will only be effective if they reach everybody.
"We need to invest into culturally appropriate interventions. Culturally doesn't necessarily mean black or white or Hispanic or Native, culturally means the setting in which you live, whether it be a setting being a disabled person or from a rural region, being gay or lesbian. These are all different cultures within our society," Haring said.
"It's an ongoing battle."