Carmen Garcia-Downingm, MS

Community, Environment and Policy Division
Healing Pathways Program
1295 N. Martin
Campus PO Box: 245210
Drachman Hall
Tucson, AZ 85724
(520) 626-7963


A native Zapotec Indian, Carmen Garcia-Downing, MS, focuses on the social and health impacts of involuntary displacement and resettlement, especially of indigenous peoples. She also works in outreach, encouraging underrepresented minority students to enter the health professions. Joining the late Dr. Andrew Nichols Rural Health Office at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in 1992, she developed outreach methods for Native American and other minority students. Based on her analysis of barriers to recruitment and retention, she took steps to create a supportive environment for Native American students in the College of Medicine. Garcia-Downing initiated the Blessing Ceremony for incoming and graduating Native American medical and public health students, their families and the faculty. In collaboration with the University of Arizona undergraduate pre-health advisor, Dr. Christine Marshall, Garcia-Downing organized in 1993 the first Talking Medicine Circle (TMC), a semi-annual Native American gathering. Participants share a dinner, traditional music, and discuss their careers and work in a traditional format. With the support of other units within the UA, AHSC, and the College of Medicine Office of Minority Affairs, the TMC allows participants from freshman to practicing professionals from the health/allied health fields to network in an informal setting.

Garcia-Downing also helped establish the Stoklos Native American Health Education Fund that funded the speakers series that brought Native American Physicians to present on their work and to network with the pre-health and health students, especially in medicine. Garcia-Downing co-directed the Southern Arizona Border Health Careers Opportunity Program (SAB-HCOP), a recruitment and retention program for disadvantaged middle school, high school, undergraduate and postgraduate students in the health professions. As part of the 1992 reorganization, Garcia-Downing moved to The University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health where she has increasingly focused on the health and associated impacts of involuntary displacement and resettlement. Development programs, such as large dams, highways, and other development projects have continued to impoverish indigenous peoples and undermine their health. She conducted fieldwork on this issue among the Pehuenche Indians in South-Central Chile, a small tribe of piñón-nut gatherers and herders who were being forced off their land by a series of dams. She has also conducted research on the impact of displacement brought about by mining. And she has been a founder and serves as Executive Secretary of the International Network on Displacement and Resettlement – the only international professional organization of professionals working in this field. Trilingual, Garcia-Downing speaks her native language Zapotec, a Native American language from Oaxaca in southern Mexico, Spanish and English.


1989, MS, Range Management, University of Arizona

1982, BS, Animal Science, University of Arizona


Co-authored an article: Indigenous ways of knowing: Implications for participatory research and community,  with Patricia Cochran, Catherine A. Marshall, Carmen Garcia-Downing, Elizabeth Kendall, Doris Cook, Laurie McCubbin, and Reva Mariah S. Gover. Submitted to American Journal of Public Health. Status: accepted. Publication date? Unknown.

Jonhston, BR and Garcia-Downing, C. 2004. Hydroelectric Dam Development on the Alto Bio-Bio River, Chile; Anthropology and Human Rights Advocacy. In: In the Way of Development. Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects, and Globalization. Mario Blaser, Harvey A. Feit & Glenn McRae (Eds.). Published by Zed Books (, London and New York in association with the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.

Downing TE, Garcia-Downing, C, Moles J and McIntosh I. 2003. Mining and Indigenous Peoples: Stakeholder Strategies and Tactics. In: Finding Common Ground. Indigenous Peoples and their Association with the Mining Sector. Luke Danielson Project Director. A Report based on the work of the Mining Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) Project at the International Institute for Environment and Development (iied). Project was funded by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development WBCSD). London, Uk.

Plan B: What is going to happen to my people. Theodore E. Downing and Carmen Garcia-Downing. Cultural Survival Quarterly (circulation, 35000), Winter 2001. Pages 8-15.

Languages Spoken:

Zapotec, Spanish and English.