American Cancer Society calls for Native American artwork

Charlotte Hofer, Special to Today

In an effort to help American Indians and Alaska Natives stay informed about cancer risks, treatments and options, the American Cancer Society and a group of AI/AN volunteers worked together to develop Circle of Life, an initiative that brings educational cancer programs to tribal communities across the nation.

“Beauty before me, I walk with. Beauty behind me, I walk with. Beauty below me, I walk with. Beauty all around me, I walk with.”

-Navajo Night Chant

In developing materials and resources for Circle of Life, the American Cancer Society has been working to ensure the content is holistic, culturally appropriate, and engaging. The content is delivered by community health representatives who work with AI/AN populations. The power of Circle of Life is that it is customizable – to fit a tribe or village’s cultural uniqueness while incorporating their own local stories and artwork.

As part of the Circle of Life National Call for Artwork initiative, AI/AN artists are invited to submit their cultural artwork to be included in a database on the Circle of Life. Their artwork will then be available for tribes and communities to use when customizing Circle of Life materials, to fit their communities’ personal needs.

The call for artwork will allow tribes and communities that may not have any culturally appropriate artwork the opportunity to make the Circle of Life curriculum more personal and relevant to their own community members.

“Community people know what will resonate with their members and how important it is to have educational efforts incorporate visuals such as artwork that reflect their cultural values,” said Roberta Cahill, Yankton Sioux member and American Cancer Society staff who helps bring cancer education to diverse populations in South Dakota.

The artwork will be evaluated based on the cultural appropriateness of the piece and how it fits into the Circle of Life curriculum, more than one artist’s work may be chosen.

“The American Cancer Society opened up a call for artwork because the Circle of Life initiative includes a customizable curriculum that tribes and communities will be able to tailor to fit their communities,” said Octavia Vogel, national Circle of Life program coordinator for the American Cancer Society. “We have found that the Circle of Life is being utilized significantly by Native communities.”

The Circle of Life initiative educates AI/AN populations about how to stay well by taking steps to reduce their cancer risk or detect it early; what treatment options are available if they have cancer; support systems to help guide them through every step of a cancer experience so they can focus on getting well; and end-of-life care.

The deadline to submit artwork is Feb. 15. It can be submitted in JPEG, GIF, TIF or other similar formats to Hard copies of artwork, no originals please, can be mailed to Octavia Vogel, 250 Williams St., Atlanta, Ga., 30303. Non-Native Americans may also submit artwork, as long as it is culturally appropriate to the AI/AN communities.

Final selections will be acknowledged by name and tribal affiliation and are encouraged to share their personal relationship with cancer.

At the American Cancer Society, we are working together with our millions of supporters to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. We are fighting for every life threatened by every cancer in every community. We recognize each community has different needs and we’re here to help everyone stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back against cancer. For help anytime, contact us online or (800) 227-2345.

For information on this article, contact Charlotte Hofer, American Cancer Society at

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