Native People and Diabetes: A Serious Struggle

SPECIAL: “Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living war chief of the Crow Tribe of Montana and a renowned Native American historian and anthropologist, died on Sunday at a hospice in Billings, Mont. He was 102.” Mike McPhate, April 4, 2016- The New York Times 

MAY HE REST IN PEACE2

TEACHERS: Crow Nation Lesson Plan with Answer Key here

 

Joseph Medicine Crow spoke at a dedication for a Peace Memorial near the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. Beck Bohrer NYT

Joseph Medicine Crow spoke at a dedication for a Peace Memorial near the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. Beck Bohrer NYT

 

Native People and Diabetes: A Serious Struggle

“It seems like every time I talk to my mom she gives me a rundown about which family members are sick and/or injured. Usually it’s something not-too-serious…Well this most recent list of our family’s walking wounded, she told me about an uncle who has been sick with diabetes…this time in the hospital [he had] to get his leg amputated—it kinda left me stunned and thinking about all the many times I’ve seen other Native people losing battles to diabetes. From my own family I’ve seen body parts get chopped off, children traumatized, and then we see them back at the casino buffet line or drinking Red Bull or Pepsi until the next incident happens.” G. Ross, ICTMN

Courtesy Wesley Roach, Skan Media. ICTMN

Courtesy Wesley Roach, Skan Media. ICTMN

Excerpt: Diabetes…Rethinking Our Relationship with Sugar By Gyasi Ross, ICTMN

“I’m not one to talk about bad dietary habits as any sort of authority. Honestly. I have friends who are doing amazing things in wellness and nutrition and teaching Native people how get back to ancestral ways of co-existing with health and wellness and nutrition…but honestly that’s not me. I’m honestly not focusing how to Indigenize my diet; instead I’m forcing myself not to eat Dark Chocolate Kit Kats every night or eat corn chips pretty much every single day.

Healthier Native diets. photo-voanews

Healthier Native diets. photo-voanews

Depending upon where I’m at, I am more or less likely to consume disgusting amounts of sugar—usually at night. I don’t know why that is (if anybody does, please explain it to me). But when I’m on the road, I’ll usually stop in someplace and get some trail-mix or Cracker Jacks; not the worst thing in the world, but still bad to be eating at 1:30 in the morning …(plus, tells you that I have a lame social life.) I’m addicted to sugar. It seems like a whole bunch of us are.

NACA Photo-ICTMN

NACA Photo-ICTMN

I was fortunate to visit the Native American Community Academy (“NACA”) in Albuquerque and was immediately struck by all of the nutrition-themed posters around the school.  NACA is a charter school for 6-12th graders and represents more than 30 tribal groups. 

Healthy snacks

Healthy snacks

Fun and healthy snack ideas for children. Photo- huffingtonpost

Fun and healthy snack ideas for children. Photo- huffingtonpost

The school’s Lunch Program and Healthy Snack Program provides that each school day, a private vendor brings freshly prepared lunches for all students at NACA.

Buffalo meat is healthy

Buffalo meat is healthy

Try cartoon themes to get kids to eat healthy. Photo- dailymail.co

Try cartoon themes to get kids to eat healthy. Photo- dailymail.co

The school says that it is striving to improve the quality of lunches by providing culturally sensitive meals such as buffalo instead of beef, more vegetable choices, and locally grown produce. Healthy, free snacks are also offered to students in the morning and after school.

Delicious Algonquin Three sisters Veggies- corn, beans, and squash.

Delicious Algonquin Three sisters Veggies- corn, beans, and squash.

Healthy Native food. Photo- tahtonka.com

Healthy Native food. Photo- tahtonka.com

I know diabetes, like any disease, is not just about willpower… I will splurge from time to time—we all deserve it sometimes—but I have to remind myself that it is a disease and I am an addict and what’s a safe amount of heroin to give a heroin addict?”

Gyasi Ross author, lawyer and singer.

Gyasi Ross author, lawyer and singer.

“You don’t deal with sickness with shame or judgment or silence; you deal with it by bringing it out into the light of day and educating those most at risk for the sickness.” ~Gyasi Ross~ 

Category: Health