for risk assessments have evolved over time,
there remains a void in the assessment of
health. The void is grounded in a deﬁnition of
health within Mohawk society that differs
remarkably from that of mainstream society.
Not only must the physical health of an indi-
vidual be considered but also what has become
known as the emotional, mental, and spiritual
being of the person. Considering only the
physical part of the individual does not
address the health and well-being of the indi-
vidual; therefore, overall health is at greater
risk. Without this consideration, any risk
assessment is lacking and cannot address the
very issue it is supposed to address. The deﬁni-
tions of health used by Tribal/First Nations
are strikingly different from those of Western
health-based professionals and scientists.
Moreover, there is a critical need to expand
the current deﬁnition of health and incorpo-
rate traditional knowledge into all facets of
decision making regarding health issues.
The results of this project will provide part
of the picture regarding risk of exposure and
possible health effects in the community.
Work is ongoing at Akwesasne to develop a
more holistic model of risk-based decision
making (Arquette et al. 2002). Results from
this project will be integrated with information
from many other community sources so that a
full picture of the impact of toxicants in the
community can be created. For the Mohawk
community it is critical to identify correctly
those cultural and subsistence-based pathways
placing them at risk and then for them, as a
community, to decide what is acceptable risk.
Research relationships with communities
do not end when the funding does, as acade-
mic partners may be called on to assist with
intervention and policy issues for years and
perhaps decades into the future. Sustainability
and reciprocity of the partnership relationship
are the truest forms of beneﬁt for the commu-
nity (Holkup et al. 2004), for these will aid the
community to reduce or effectively eliminate
persistent racial and socioeconomic disparities
in health in the future.
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VOLUME 113 | NUMBER 12 | December 2005
Environmental Health Perspectives