Decolonizing Care at Diagnosis: Culture, History, and Family at an Urban Inter‐tribal Clinic


The decolonization framework in medical anthropology is slowly reframing tropes of cultural competency toward decolonizing health care. For decolonization of health care to occur, both colonial histories and continuing postcolonial inequities must be recognized from the first diagnostic moment. We report on qualitative research into the role of culture, history, and family experience in person‐specific reactions to receipt of a diagnosis. A collaborative approach at an urban inter‐tribal clinic was used to interview patients with a recent (within six months) diagnosis of diabetes or related condition. Interviews revealed ways that the Relocation Act eventuated in isolation, poverty, and diabetes among now‐urban Native Americans. We discuss how patients may or may not have the ability to (re)connect with their heritage and may simultaneously perceive only recent family contexts as influential in their diabetes. We conclude by acknowledging how postcolonial harms are not captured in diagnoses but should not be left out of diagnostic discussions.