Healthy & Vibrant Indigenous Communities

We envision healthy and vibrant Indigenous communities.
Creating sustainable, systemic change in health, language and
culture, education, and the environment, has been our focus since 2007.

Red Star International, Inc. (formerly Red Star Innovations) is a private, non-profit organization that partners with Indigenous governments, organizations and communities to improve well-being.

Our reach spans across the US, Pacific Islands, and more recently, in Aotearoa/New Zealand.


Indigenous Peoples and Nations have the inherent right to freely assert their sovereignty and political status. Our efforts to advance self-determination are guided by the following values:

Self-Determination – Respect Indigenous peoples’ right to determine their future.
Indigenous Wisdom – Prioritize local knowledge, values, and practices.
Relational Accountability – Nurture relationships built on mutual respect and cooperation.
Collective Will – Uphold shared aspirations through dedication and perseverance.
Guardianship – Protect and care for the well-being of humanity and the earth.


Aleena M. Kawe (Hiaki)

Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer


Aleena became interested in ‘systems’ and their impact on wellness early in her career as a case manager with families experiencing homelessness, and later as a teacher at an alternative high school. Since then, she has worked to positively impact health by mobilizing communities and creating systems change in health, education, Indigenous language revitalization, and cultural preservation. Aleena has worked with Indigenous communities to establish a library; create a culturally-based education model for a charter high school; integrate community health services and healthcare; and develop cultural frameworks for health promotion programs, langauge revitalization, and community resiliency. Aleena recently received national recognition for her leadership in developing the nation’s first public health institute to focus solely on Indigenous health. Prior to Red Star, Aleena served as the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Education Director, and as the American Indian Research Center for Health Administrator at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Aleena has a master’s degree in public health from The University of Arizona, where she is an adjunct faculty at the Global Health Institute.

Karen Francis-Begay (Navajo)

Secretary/Treasurer; Founding Board Member


Karen has devoted her career to advancing educational access and success for Native American students and to fostering relationships with tribal communities. Karen is the Assistant Vice President for Tribal Relations at The University of Arizona. Her primary role is to serve as a key representative and liaison between tribal leaders and the University in efforts to strengthen partnerships and advance mutual goals. Karen has a bachelor of science in public administration, a master of arts in American Indian studies, and is pursuing a PhD in higher education administration at The University of Arizona. Karen has served on numerous governing boards at the national, regional and local level, including the College Board, College Horizons and the YWCA of Tucson.

John R. Lewis (Mohave/Pima/Tohono O’odham)

Founding Board Member


Mr. Lewis’ life‘s work has been dedicated to strengthening tribal sovereignty, and upholding the government-to-government relationship between tribes and federal agencies, the State of Arizona, and state universities. Mr. Lewis served as the Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) from 1975 – 2013 during a time of great political change for tribes across the United States. In this capacity, Mr. Lewis worked to grow the organization from a staff of one with minimal funding into one that operates more than 30 programs, such as Environmental Quality, Health & Human Services, Nutrition and Health Research. Within Arizona, Mr. Lewis and ITCA were instrumental in successfully advocating for American Indian voting rights, establishing tribal liaisons in state offices, developing tribal consultation models, and organizing the Tribal Water Policy Council. Mr. Lewis continues to be an advocate and remains actively involved in cultural preservation, biomedical research, and policy.

Christina E. Oré, MPH (Quechua – Mestiza, Peru and Irish)

Founding Board Member


Christina is dedicated to community, inter-generational health and well-being that comes from a deep connection to place, people, and memory. Born and raised in southwestern Arizona, Christina has nearly 20 years of experience as a public health practitioner working for Indigenous communities, tribal governments and national/regional tribal organizations in U.S., Guam, and Mexico. In 2018, Christina received her DrPH from the University of Arizona (UA), Zuckerman College of Public Health, in policy and management. Her dissertation title, “Indigenous health systems: An emergent Yaqui-centered framework for public health practice”. Her multidisciplinary minor included coursework from the UA, Rogers College of Law, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program (IPLP) and UA, Sociology Department. Christina is currently a Senior Analyst with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Health Services Division (PYHSD). She works on system improvement initiatives related to self-governance, integration, and public health accreditation. Christina has presented on her participatory, Indigenous knowledge-centered research and evaluation work nationally and internationally (e.g., 2017 He Manawa Whenua, University of Waikato, Aotearoa and 2018 Our Nations, Our Journeys: Public Health Forum, Michigan, U.S.). She is founding member of the UA American Indian Indigenous Health Alliance, member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) and US Indigenous Data Sovereignty Network (USIDSN). Christina lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Joseph Boehm; two children, Munai and Tenzin; and her extended family, including her father Horacio Oré Giron.

Frank Te Mihinui Kawe (Ngāti Ranginui/Ngāti Kahungunu)

Waka Captain/Cultural Advisor


Frank has a passion and desire to see the art of Māori and Polynesian sailing flourish once again across the Pacific. For the last 20 years, Frank has dedicated much of his time to relearning and revitalizing the traditional arts of waka ama (outrigger canoe) and waka hourua (voyaging canoe) in Aotearoa and Hawaii. In 2012, he served as captain of ‘Te Matau a Maui’, which completed an 18 Month from across the Pacific. He served as crew and supported the 4-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage around the world with the Polynesian Voyaging Society from Hawai’i, which culminated this month on Oahu, Hawaii. In 2007, he was one of two Māori voyagers who took part in the ‘Ku Holo Mau’ voyage aboard the ‘Alingano Maisu’ canoe from Hawaii to the Island of Satawal in Micronesia, the home of traditional Master Navigator Pius Mau Piailug. More recently, he was featured as the skipper in Māori Television’s Waka Warriors, a 10-episode series involving three youth who joined the crew of Haunui Waka as they circumnavigated the North Island. Frank maintains strong relationships with voyaging societies across the Pacific, including the Polynesian Voyaging Society, Na Kalai Wa’a Moku o Hawaii, and other Ohana Waa. Frank also spent time in Native communities in Alaska and southwestern tribes in U.S.