Manataka® American Indian Council



Proudly Presents


Women's Council News

February 2011




Lita Pepion:  Working Up a Good Sweat



CRL Health & Fitness is a Native owned and operated Health & Fitness Consulting business offering health and fitness training, certifications, motivational presentations and program development services uniquely tailored to Indian People, their learning styles and culture.  Formed in 2008 by Lita Pepion of the Blackfeet Nation in response to mounting health disparities among Native People, CRL has trained and certified over 250 Native American Fitness Professionals and presented at Native health and wellness conferences throughout the United States.


Growing up on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Browning, MT Pepion experienced first hand the poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, apathy and acceptance of unhealthy choices common on many Indian Reservations.  She practiced these behaviors too and, ended up in the gutter, jail, hospital and worse.


Wanting a better life for her children and all Native People, Pepion decided to make drastic changes.  She went to treatment for her substance abuse issues and to counseling to address the anger and shame she carried. She came to understand that the way of life for many Native People was a direct result of forced colonization and the loss of our traditional ways of living. People were less active, food was not made by the Creator, identities were lost and depression, alcohol and drug use, violence and poverty had become an accepted way of life. 


Lita studied pre-medicine and biology at the University of Portland and the University of Nevada – Reno where she received a B.S. in Biology and was selected as one of the Top Ten Senior Women.  She studied medicine at the University Of Minnesota School Of Medicine in Minneapolis and completed clinical internships at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nevada and Indian Health Service Clinics in Nevada, South Dakota and Montana.  Lita has also completed coursework toward a M.Ed. specializing in curriculum development and was a licensed Teacher in the State of Montana.


In the early 1990’s Pepion decided to become a medical doctor, hoping to improve health among Native People.  While attending medical school she realized that western medicine was not the complete answer to Indian health issues.  The Indian Health Service had been around since the late 1950’s yet Indian Health had steadily worsened.  Something different needed to be done. 



If the lifestyle choices made by individuals each day were resulting in poor health then they needed to change.  People would need to recognize that there is a problem but that they have the power within to make their lives better and to protect and improve their health.   They needed to understand that doctors aren’t the only ones who can impact health; that understanding our bodies and minds does not take fancy words and years of schooling; that each individual has the power to make positive change and, that changing lifestyle habits formed over many years does not happen overnight.


As a result, CRL was formed.  Native People from throughout the United States have attended CRL trainings and rated them “excellent” in all areas.  Participant comments are always positive and many participants say that CRL trainings are the best they have ever been to.  They appreciate learning ways to protect and improve health by being more active and eating foods made from the Creator.  They appreciate learning how to exercise safely and effectively.  They appreciate that what they learn comes from a person who has lived what they live and they appreciate the acceptance and comfort they feel at CRL Trainings. 


Lita Pepion is a Master Trainer for FiTOUR and faculty member of the American Council on Exercise and IDEA Health & Fitness Association member, Lita also serves on the Billings Public Schools Indian Parent Advisory Committee and the Montana American Indian Women’s Health Coalition and volunteers for numerous programs and events.


To find out more about CRL services please visit, call Lita at (406) 534-6791 or (406) 208-5779 or email 




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