Article ID: CBB165924551

Innovation on the Reservation: Information Technology and Health Systems Research among the Papago Tribe of Arizona, 1965–1980 (2020)


In May 1973 a new collaboration between NASA, the Indian Health Service, and the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company promised to transform the way members of the Papago (now Tohono O’odham) Tribe of southern Arizona accessed modern medicine. Through a system of state-of-the-art microwave relays, slow-scan television links, and Mobile Health Units, the residents of the third-largest American Indian reservation began to access physicians remotely via telemedical encounters instead of traveling to distant hospitals. Examining the history of the STARPAHC (Space Technology Applied to Rural Papago Advanced Health Care) project from the perspective of NASA and its contractors, from the perspective of the Indian Health Service, and from the perspective of O’odham engineers and health professionals offers a new focus, emphasizing the American Indian reservation as a site of medical research and technological development in the late twentieth century, with specific attention to the promise of information technology to address health disparities and the role of American Indians as actors in the late twentieth-century history of science, technology, and medicine.

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Authors & Contributors
Hofer, Theresia
Sugita, Yoneyuki
Hoyt, Kendall
Porras, María Isabel
Báguena Cervellera, María José
Ballester, Rosa
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Medizinhistorisches Journal
Medical History
Harvard University Press
Loyola University of Chicago
University of New Mexico
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Rutgers University Press
Public health
Health care
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Medicine and government
Medicine and society
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
Arizona (U.S.)
United States
West Germany
World Health Organization (WHO)
European Association against Poliomyelitis

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