Gray again honored for work with Native peoples

Longtime UND Center for Rural Health scholar recognized for ever-growing contributions in field of addiction

Jacque Gray

UND’s Jacque Gray is very well known in American Indian and government circles as a powerful advocate — and researcher — in issues related to native aging, elder abuse and other troubling health disparities in Indian country. Photo by Shawna Schill.

Jacque Gray keeps adding to her honors portfolio.

Recently, she received the “Dr. Duane Mackey Lectureship and Award” at the Great Plains Behavioral Health Conference in Rapid City, S.D., in recognition of her ever-growing contributions in the field of addiction.

Gray serves as a research professor in the UND Department of Population Health and as associate director of the Center for Rural Health for indigenous programs at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences.

The Dr. Duane Mackey “Waktaya Naji” Lecture and Award recognizes people who study addiction and have made valuable contributions in education, mentoring, research and service among American Indians and/or Alaska Natives. In addition, the award honors those who have tirelessly promoted and lived the ideals of equality and justice for everyone.

The award was created in 2010 by what was then known as the Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) along with the South Dakota Prairielands ATTC Advisory Board.

Mackey, the award’s namesake, spent his life promoting equality through education.

Publishing whirlwind

In addition to researching and combating addiction among American Indian communities, Gray also has been active with issues related to Native aging, elder abuse and other troubling health disparities in Indian country. With a full-page profile on the American Psychological Association’s website (among others), Gray is well known in American Indian and government circles as a powerful advocate — and researcher — in thee areas.

Gray manages several programs, along with a national network of colleagues and students, from her office at the Center for Rural Health. She coordinates and nurtures a number of those programs directly, and mentors even more across the country.

She’s also a publishing whirlwind, with scores of refereed and widely referenced academic publications indexed on places such as Google Scholar. Her reach is such that federal agencies have several times reached out to her with a call: “Please, take our money.”

Most recently, Gray received a two-year $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Not long afterward, Sanford Health awarded her more than $100,000 for a project titled “Wac’in Yeya: The Hope Project.”

Gray keeps a level head and low profile about her own work, sharing credit with colleagues and students alike.

A big part of her work, under the recent DHHS grant, is to expand the development of an elder-abuse code that can be used on reservations across the country. Gray says her team already has developed model codes that tribes can adapt for their communities.

A key part of the program is a survey, including training on the use of surveys and the research protocols. Without such knowledge, it’s tough to extract useful information, Gray notes. Eventually, her efforts could reach hundreds of the 567 federally recognized tribes, plus some of the 400 state-recognized or other unrecognized tribes, around the country.

“That’s a pretty good reach, especially when you consider that Native Americans make up 50 percent of the diversity in this country,” she said. “We want to help both the tribes and our students learn to do research.”

More about Gray:

Gray also directs the Seven Generations Center of Excellence in Native Behavioral Health and the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative. She works with the National Resource Center on Native American Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health Outreach Partnership, the IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence, and the UND American Indian Health Research Conference.

She also directs the Native Health Research Team and mentors more 25 Native American students.

Gray is an Oklahoman of Choctaw and Cherokee descent. She came to North Dakota in 1999 as a visiting professor in the UND Department of Counseling and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in 2001. Gray joined the Center for Rural Health in 2004.