College of Medicine Urban Health Program (COM-UHP)

Access. Excellence. Leadership.

Developing Leaders to Advance Health Equity!

The College of Medicine Urban Health Program (COM-UHP) has a proven track record of developing leaders who will advance health equity. On all four sites of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, COM-UHP offers a variety of longitudinal programs and services for students who are underrepresented in medicine (URiM) specifically African-Americans, Native Americans, Latinos/as, and those from disadvantaged backgrounds that: attract talent, provide access to medical education, support even progression and academic excellence, and promote leadership within the health equity arena. Since its inception in 1969, COM-UHP has assisted more than 2,000 African-American, Native American and Latino/a students in gaining admission to and graduating from the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

What is urban health?

Urban health is an area of health care focused on the unique medical concerns which dominate large metropolitan areas along with social concerns that affect lives and access to healthy living. The Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization acknowledge the relationship between health and the social determinants of health (such as education, income, housing, air quality, health insurance, risk behaviors, and environmental hazards) when defining urban health.

COM-UHP Celebrates National Native American Heritage Month

National Native American Heritage Day is observed on November 26, a day after Thanksgiving. American Indians are accorded special honor on this day, and their rich cultures, accomplishments, contributions, and heritage are celebrated.

During National Native American Heritage Month, we will explore the heritage, culture, and experience of Indigenous peoples both historically and in American life today, while also sharing the various ways the National Park Service collaborates with Indigenous communities.

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.