NIH News Release
National Library of Medicine

Thursday, November 9, 2000

Contact: Robert Mehnert
Kathy Cravedi
(301) 496-6308

NIH Project to Link Local Native Americans to Medical Information on the Web

(Bethesda, Md.) — As computers and the internet become more widespread across the country, some populations are left out of the digital revolution-the elderly, the poor, rural populations, and other minorities such as Native Americans. But for one Indian community in suburban Washington, D.C., this is about to change.

The National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health Office of the Director are installing a fully equipped computer laboratory with eight computers and high-speed Internet access in the American Indian Cultural Center in Waldorf, Maryland. The Federal commitment includes all hardware, software, Internet connectivity, and training.

Donald A.B. Lindberg, M.D., director of the National Library of Medicine, noted that this is the latest in a series of projects sponsored by the NLM to connect underserved populations to health information on the World Wide Web. "We have an extensive Tribal Connections Program in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska," he said, "but it is especially gratifying to help those in need just a few miles from the Library."

About 8,000 members of the Piscataway Indian Tribe live in southern Maryland. Health problems in this population include high blood pressure and diabetes. "The NIH has created a number of Web sites with a wealth of good consumer health information," said Yvonne Maddox, Ph.D., acting NIH deputy director. "This facility is an important step in reducing health disparities and in improving the health status of an at-risk population by providing information," she added.

On Wednesday, November 15, at 11:00 a.m. at the American Indian Cultural Center there will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Mike Miller, President of the Maryland Senate, Dr. Maddox, and NLM director Lindberg.

The American Indian Cultural Center, which also houses a museum and library, serves as a local venue to which local tribespeople, both children and adults, come to learn more about their culture. The new facility will serve as a learning laboratory and a community resource not only for information about health, but about employment opportunities and culturally relevant issues. "Because most Piscataway tribal members do not have home computers we're delighted that we will now be able to provide them with this community resource and with timely and up-to-date medical information," said Natalie Proctor, Center director.

Members of the press are invited to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The American Indian Cultural Center is at 16816 Country Lane in Waldorf, Maryland: 10 miles south of beltway Exit 7A on Route 5, left on Cedarville Road one mile, right on Country Lane. Their phone number is 301-372-1932.