Duo to examine American Indian diabetes woes

Written by at November 30, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – Two Lawrence journalism instructors are conducting a study that they hope will shed light on the way the media portrays diabetes among American Indians and lead to better health options.

Teresa Trumbly Lamsam and Rhonda LeValdo-Gayton, who are American Indians, said they’ve seen the effects that limited food choices on reservations can have and understand the poor health conditions some Native Americans face, and that they believe the media largely ignores the issue, the Lawrence Journal-World reported Saturday.

“I feel like we just really got to step this up,” said LeValdo-Gayton, who teaches at Haskell Indian Nations University. “I feel like we’re going to lose people that we don’t want to lose.”

They said say hope by conducting their research they can start a conversation that will lead to better reporting on the topic that it could lead to better outlooks for people facing diabetes.

“Mainstream news does influence public opinion and public policy in this country,” said Lamsam, who teaches at the University of Kansas. “How they’re telling the story of diabetes makes a difference to what happens in D.C.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says American Indians are three times likely to die from diabetes than the general population. About 16 percent of American Indians have diabetes, more than double the rate for whites. LeValdo-Gayton has lost several family members to the disease and wants to keep her two children from the illness.

The women say diabetes is shortening the lifespan of American Indian elders and pushing younger adults to become keepers of the culture.

“We shouldn’t be at this point. We should be having them around us a lot longer to teach that next generation,” said LeValdo-Gayton, who has lost three uncles to the disease. “I am just floored by everything I still have to learn, and I have to seek it from somebody else now.

“I don’t want to see our next generation of people having to deal with death like this.”

Part of the study will look at how news articles frame the issue and whether the American Indians are blamed for the rise in diabetes or other factors. It is similar to studies that have looked at how the federal government fights other diseases, such as smoking and the 1960s when public health officials and the media focused on the power of nicotine to cause addictions.

Fighting diabetes could be the next topic that shifts from being an individual responsibility to a wider public health concern, they said.

The women conducted a pilot study over the summer and found that news articles over the past 14 years portrayed American Indians as being responsible for diabetes because of their eating habits or sedentary lifestyles.

The articles didn’t address the availability of healthier food options or weight-management programs to help people control their diet and diabetes. The women said if more articles talked about the broader issues around the disease or how others have been able to fight back it could make a difference.

“We’re talking about a collective culture, not an individualistic culture,” Lamsam said. “If people on a reservation see their friends and neighbors are living more healthy, it would probably make it easier for them to live healthy lives as well.”
Information from: Lawrence Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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Choctaw Nation donates 
$1 million to Dean McGee Eye Institute

Written by at November 30, 2011

Dean McGee Eye Institute Ophthalmologists
and Choctaw Nation celebrate 10-year partnership

Oklahoma City – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has contributed $1 million to the Dean McGee Eye Institute Capital Campaign, putting the Institute within $2 million of its $46 million campaign goal. 

The capital campaign has provided funds for completion of the new, five-story, 78,000-square-foot, world-class research and clinical facility that was dedicated  on September 30 and for renovation of the existing 70,000-square-foot building constructed in 1975.
“We are extremely grateful to the Choctaw Nation for this very generous gift.  Our ophthalmologists, led by Dr. Stephen Fransen, have enjoyed a long and meaningful relationship with Choctaw leaders since 2001 in working together to  preserve vision for the Choctaw people through the  Diabetic Retinopathy Outreach Program clinic in Talihina,” said Dr. Gregory Skuta, President and CEO of the Dean McGee Eye Institute and Edward L. Gaylord Professor and Chair of the OU College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. “This gift helps to expand our clinical and research capabilities in treating and preventing vision loss from diabetes and other disorders in the hundreds of tribal members who visit our  doctors both in Oklahoma City and in Talihina.”

Dr. Fransen and other Dean McGee Eye Institute ophthalmologists have treated over 3,000 tribal members at the two clinics,  performing nearly 600 retinal laser procedures in the Talihina clinic alone. 

“Encouraging American Indians to seek vision care is a major health goal of the Choctaw Nation, especially considering the high risk of diabetic retinopathy in  this population,” said Chief Gregory E. Pyle of the Choctaw Nation. “The Dean McGee Eye Institute has proactively dedicated itself to working with us  to help diagnose and treat retinal problems earlier in the disease process and thereby achieve better outcomes.” 

The newly-expanded Dean McGee Eye Institute facility, which adjoins the original  facility, doubles the space for research laboratories, expands clinical capacity by 40 percent, and consolidates all of the clinical care, vision research, teaching, and administrative functions into one location.   

The Institute’s clinical and surgical teams provide more than 150,000 patient visits (both adult and children) in addition to 7,000 surgical procedures each year.  

Dean McGee Eye Institute physicians and scientists are internationally respected and hold numerous leadership positions in major professional and scientific organizations. 

The  residency and fellowship training programs at the Institute, which are affiliated with the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology, are highly competitive and attract top candidates from throughout the country.  

About Dean McGee Eye Institute

The Dean McGee Eye Institute is one of the largest and most respected eye institutes in the United States and houses the Department of Ophthalmology for the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. Its research and training programs are among the most highly regarded in the country. More than half of the Institute’s ophthalmologists are listed in The Best Doctors in America; its Director of Vision Research is a Past President of the International Society for Eye Research; two members of the faculty are recent or current directors of the American Board of Ophthalmology; two serve on the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Ophthalmology; and one recently served as president of the American Glaucoma Society.

About Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Choctaw Nation is the third largest tribe in the United States, governed under the leadership of Chief Gregory E. Pyle since 1997. Under the constitution of 1983, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is a three-branch government – legislative, judicial and executive.  Making up the 10 ½ counties of the southeast corner of the state, the Capitol of the tribe is at Tushka Homma, located in Pushmataha County, where the tribal council makes legislative decisions and the judicial branch holds court.  
The administrative headquarters are in Durant (Bryan County), and 17 community centers scattered in the various counties house field offices for the many programs and services so that the tribal members are served with convenience.  A new hospital and clinics have been constructed over the past several years, and 5,000 new jobs have been created since 1997 through economic and program development.

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Two-Day Conference Will Focus on Curbing American Indian Obesity Rates

Written by at November 28, 2011

Best Practices for Systemic, Environmental, and Policy Changes To Be Shared

The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) will host a two-day conference March 13-14, 2012 in San Diego focused on developing sustainable obesity prevention programs.

Entitled “Fostering Sustainable Strategies to Create Healthy, Active Native Communities Conference”, the gathering will offer tribal leaders, health professionals and health researchers an opportunity to share best practices on creating the systemic, environmental, and policy changes needed to not only combat obesity, but also promote physical fitness and healthier eating in Indian County.

With a Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), AAIP created the Healthy, Active Native Communities (HANC) program to help tribal communities and partners develop sustainable obesity prevention programs.

“Obesity is an epidemic that is plaguing Indian communities. We see it nationwide, but it is especially problematic with our country’s first citizens,” said HANC Director Noelle Kleszynski. “To address this deadly issue head-on, we want to share ideas and provide models of successful programs that can be taken home and replicated in other tribal communities.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, obesity rates in America have tripled in the past 30 years; one in every three children in the United States is obese and Native American citizens are 1.6 times as likely to be obese than other racial and ethnic groups.  A separate national study of obesity rates for low-income, pre-school aged children showed Native youth children had the highest obesity rate: 20 percent. Additionally, American Indian and Alaska Native children were the only minority group with increasing obesity rates.

“There are changes we can make in Indian Country to prevent the chronic diseases and mortality rates associated with obesity,” said Kleszynski.

She said things like building environments conducive to physical activity, employing tribal personnel to teach improved family nutrition, increasing access to nutritious foods, and developing local crops via community gardens that are sustainable and healthy are the types of models and best practices that will be shared during the conference.

Over the past year, HANC has assisted 12 tribal community partners in developing plans and policies that increase access and usage of healthy foods and promote physical activity.

“Now we can share some winning ideas. We have seen first-hand that real change is possible when dedicated champions and communities tackle an issue like this,” said Kleszynski. “An informed community with leaders that are willing to change or improve policies and ensure access to healthier foods and physical activity where we live, work and play will result in healthier communities and raise healthier kids.”

For more information or to register to attend, visit www.aaip.org

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American Indians see lessons in sweat lodge trial

Written by at November 25, 2011

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) – Self-help author James Arthur Ray faced more than a judge at his sentencing last week for a sweat lodge ceremony that left three people dead. Members of the American Indian community sat through almost the entire trial in silent protest of Ray’s use of a sacred tradition.

Ray is serving two years in prison after a lengthy trial that ended in a trio of negligent homicide convictions and that made little mention of Native culture and traditions. He has vowed not to hold another sweat lodge ceremony.

But whether Ray learned not to misappropriate cultures remains to be seen, said Ivan Lewis of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.

“He desecrated our ceremony, he abused it,” Lewis said Wednesday. “He used it in any way that he could just to get his money. He was told before not to do that, and he’s paying for it now.”

Sweat lodges are commonly used by American Indian tribes to cleanse the body and prepare for hunts, ceremonies and other events. They typically hold no more than a dozen people, compared with more than 50 people inside the one Ray led near Sedona in October 2009.

The ceremony involves stones heated up outside the lodge, brought inside and placed in a pit. The door is closed, and water is poured on the stones, producing heat aimed at releasing toxins in the body. In traditional ceremonies, the person who pours the water is said to have an innate sense about the conditions of others inside the sweat lodge, many times recognizing problems before they physically are presented.

Day after day, Lewis and his companion, Cheryl Joaquin, slipped into a central Arizona courtroom to listen to trial testimony. Prosecutors hardly mentioned a sweat lodge, instead referring to Ray’s event as a “heat endurance challenge.” Most of the participants had never been in one before.

The families of the victims – Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, and Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn. – asked Lewis and Joaquin to keep in mind their loved ones when they could not be in court. The couple wore bracelets bearing Brown’s name, given to them by her parents. On the day Ray was sentenced, Joaquin’s children handed a single red rose to the victims’ families to promote healing.

Brown’s mother, Virginia, expressed sorrow “that their sacred traditions were defiled in this event.”

“We have experienced hundreds of years of generational transgressions against our way of life and the value of human life for the purpose of power and greed,” Joaquin, of the Gila River Indian Community, wrote as Ray was being sentenced. “Today we pray and envision a time of unity for all mankind, with a humble understanding of love, peace and harmony.”

Lewis was among a group who sued Ray following the ceremony, alleging that Ray violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by running the sweat lodge. A federal judge dismissed the civil complaint, saying the act applies to goods, not services.

Bill Bielecki, an attorney representing the Black Hills Sioux Nation Treaty Council on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation, said the trial would encourage non-Natives to focus on safety when running sweat lodge ceremonies.

“They’re going to look at the facts,” said Bielecki, who also was party to the lawsuit, “You don’t use a large sweat lodge, you make sure people can leave and you don’t coerce the occupants into staying beyond their limits or capabilities. If you do that, then you avoid gross negligence.”

Ray touted his sweat lodge ceremony as “hellacious hot” and said he learned from a Native American shaman. He told participants shortly before they entered the structure that he would incorporate teachings from different cultures and religions, according to an audio recording played by prosecutors. Ray said a friend once told him: “no one has been in a sweat lodge until they’ve been in your lodge.”

He charged more than $9,000 to participants of his five-day “Spiritual Warrior” event that culminated with the sweat lodge.

Three people died and 18 others were hospitalized, yet others emerged with no problems. The deaths and illnesses sparked outrage among American Indians, who drew distinctions between what Ray did and what would be considered a traditional American Indian sweat lodge.

Jonathan Ellerby, author of “Return to The Sacred: Ancient Pathways to Spiritual Awakening,” said the trouble Ray encountered suggests a breakdown in either training, facilitation or the unskilled blending of materials and practices.

“Sweat lodges and fasting are ancient traditions that promote health and healing when done well,” said Ellerby, a non-Native who also has run the ceremonies. “The trouble is that anything that can help, if misused or poorly delivered can hurt, even kill. This raises a lot of questions (about) qualifications, cultural appropriation and intent.”

Arizona lawmaker Albert Hale introduced a bill shortly after the ceremony to sanction the use of American Indian ceremonies off tribal land for profit and without permission. But he pulled it after others raised concerns about government regulation of religious practices.

Hale, former president of the Navajo Nation, said Wednesday that the lessons from Ray’s trial don’t apply only to Ray.

“The lesson should also be to the people who want to participate,” he said. “They have to take care and make certain the person advertising himself to be an expert in the area is indeed an expert.”

Ray’s supporters testified during the sentencing phase that his qualifications to lead physical activities mattered little to them because they trusted him to keep them safe.

“It should matter now,” Hale said.

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FFA Members Make Their Voices Heard in Washington

Written by at November 25, 2011

Group Promotes Native Voices, Rural and Tribal Issues with Government Officials

INDIANAPOLIS – A group of 15 current and former FFA members and FFA advisors from five states recently attended a week-long event in Washington, meeting with various leaders within the United States Department of Agriculture and other agencies from Nov. 14-18, 2011. The event was designed to raise awareness of rural issues and engage in advocacy for Native American youth in agricultural education.

By special invitation from USDA and through the generous support of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Farm Credit Serivces as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, the group united as a voice in the national dialogue on identifying barriers and opportunities in agricultural education that lead to both continuing higher education attainment and career success in native communities. They also met to recognize opportunities for support and mentorship for agricultural education students in native communities.

Among the administrators meeting with the group were Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary; Bruce Nelson, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency; Keith Moore, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education; and Brian Drapeaux, Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Indian Education.

There are 210 FFA chapter in 20 states that have students who self-identify as Native American.

Formerly known as Future Farmers of America, the National FFA Organization provides agricultural education to more than 523,000 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,487 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Participants included:

Current FFA Members
Jasmine Blackwater, Arizona
Beth Lake, Arizona
Austin Armenta, California
Natori Hatfield, California
Jacob Norte, California
Jasmine Locklear, North Carolina
Dustin Franklin, Oklahoma
Ridge Howell, Oklahoma

Former FFA Members
Joshua Moore, Arizona
Odessa Oldham, Wyoming

Elissa McBride, Arizona
Vincent Armenta, California
Sharon Freeman, California
Shawn Hatfield, California
Cindy Magill, California
Edward Norte, California
Gina Norte, California
Brandie Taylor, California
Jason Bullock, North Carolina
Narthan Coulter, Oklahoma
Jason McPeak, Oklahoma

# # #

About National FFA Organization

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of 523,309 student members as part of 7,487 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. The National FFA Organization operates under a federal charter granted by the 81st United States Congress and it is an integral part of public instruction in agriculture. The U.S. Department of Education provides leadership and helps set direction for FFA as a service to state and local agricultural education programs. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online (http://www.ffa.org), on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nationalffa), on Twitter (http://twitter.com/nationalffa) and FFA Nation (http://ffanation.ffa.org).

About Farm Credit

For 95 years, Farm Credit has been a national provider of credit and related services to rural America through a cooperative network of customer-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations. Created by Congress in 1916, the Farm Credit System provides more than $175 billion in loans and leases to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives. For more information about the Farm Credit System, please visit www.farmcredit.com.

About the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, located on the tribe’s reservation in Santa Barbara County, California. The tribe also owns Hotel Corque and Root 246 in Solvang, along with two gas stations in Santa Ynez. Visit www.santaynezchumash.org for more information on the tribe and its business enterprises.

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Oklahoma Agencies Offer HIV/AIDS Testing and Promote Activities for World AIDS Day, Dec. 1

Written by at November 22, 2011

As many as 1,777 people in Oklahoma are estimated to be infected with HIV and are unaware of their status.  The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining with communities worldwide to promote HIV testing and to put a face to HIV/AIDS through various activities across Oklahoma that recognize Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 1.1 million people in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS, yet 1 out of 5 of those persons do not know they have the disease.  OSDH statistics show that by the end of 2010, there were 8,462 cases of HIV/AIDS diagnosed among residents of Oklahoma.

Around the world and in Oklahoma, there is a stigma toward people living with HIV/AIDS, which could prevent those who may be at risk from being tested for the disease.  Additionally, some people do not believe they may be at risk.  Correct information about how one becomes infected with HIV, removing the stigma, and promoting the need for increased early testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS can help to prolong lives, prevent transmission of the disease and prevent more deaths.

At least 3,554 Oklahomans diagnosed with HIV/AIDS have died since the first cases of AIDS were reported in Oklahoma in 1982. In 2010, 26 Oklahomans with HIV/AIDS died. Seven of those died the same year they were diagnosed.  Delayed testing for HIV in Oklahoma often means a person not only finds out they have HIV, but they already have an AIDS diagnosis and are very ill.

“World AIDS Day serves as an important opportunity to bring increased awareness of HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma, and the importance of those who may be at risk for HIV to get tested. By calling 2-1-1, a person can find a free and confidential HIV test site in Oklahoma,” said Jan Fox, chief of the OSDH HIV/STD Service.

Events planned in Oklahoma to recognize World AIDS Day include the following:

·         Tuesday, Nov. 29 – the Latino Community Development Agency (OKC), 420 S.W. 10th Street, Oklahoma City, will host a Hispanic Candlelight Vigil to remember those persons who fought against AIDS.  “Wherever there is light, hope is there!” is the ceremony’s theme. It will be held from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.  For more information contact Nohora Chandler (405) 236-0701 ext. 123, lcda-vih@latinoagencyokc.org.

·         Thursday, Dec. 1 – Oklahoma State Department of Health (Tulsa) will be providing free in-home Rapid HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For an appointment call (918) 595-4292.

•               Thursday, Dec. 1 – Guiding Right, Inc. (Tulsa) will collaborate with the AIDS Coalition and Oklahomans for Equality to debut a documentary entitled, “We Were Here.” The documentary reflects on the arrival and impact of AIDS on the residents of San Francisco. The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the historic Circle Cinema located at 12 S. Lewis Avenue in Tulsa. For information about this event or for free and confidential HIV counseling and testing contact Heather Nash at (918) 591-6034, or email hnash@guidingright.org

·         Thursday, Dec. 1 – Red Rock Behavioral Health Services (OKC) at 4400 N. Lincoln Blvd in Oklahoma City will be providing free, confidential and anonymous, walk-in HIV testing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For information, contact Michael Maus at (405) 425-0473; toll free at (877) 339-3330 or email mikem@red-rock.com.

•               Thursday, Dec. 1 – Lawton Indian Hospital (Lawton) will be hosting a World AIDS Day testing event.  Testing will begin at 9 a.m. and there will be a Lunch & Learn at noon with guest speaker, Gloria Zuniga, talking about basic HIV facts. Testing will end at 2 p.m.  For information, contact Denise Smith, MPH, at Karole.smith@ihs.gov or (580) 354-5294.

•               Thursday, Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Symposium (Tulsa), “It takes a village to fight HIV/AIDS” at the OSU Tulsa Auditorium, 700 N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The symposium is presented by Tulsa CARES and will feature speakers discussing access to testing, treatment, successful interventions, how judgments affect treatment, and legal issues. Registration is $35.00 and includes a light breakfast and box lunch. For information, contact Bruce Lewis at (918) 834-4194 / 1-800-474-4872 or brucel@tulsacares.org.

•               Thursday, Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day Observance (Oklahoma City) will be held at Expressions Church, 4010 N. Youngs Blvd. The observance starts at 7 p.m. and includes keynote speaker Scott Hamilton, Director of the Cimarron Alliance, Central Oklahoma’s Preeminent LGBT Advocacy & Education Organization, along with musical and dance performances, and a lighting of candles in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. For information, contact Expressions Church, (405) 528-2210.

•               Sunday, Dec. 4 – Guiding Right, Inc. (OKC) will join efforts with two Oklahoma City African American churches. Dr. George E. Young, Pastor of Holy Temple Baptist Church, 1540 NE 50th Street, and Dr. Joel A. Tudman, Pastor of Net Church, 1212 N. Hudson, will discuss the devastation of HIV/AIDS 30 years later, specifically the impact on African Americans.  The churches will also address their role in helping reduce the number of HIV infections through education, routine HIV testing, treatment and care for those who are HIV positive. Guiding Right, Inc. will set up educational booths prior to Sunday services at 10 a.m. at both locations and distribute pamphlets and red ribbons. The congregations will wear red attire in remembrance of those who have died from HIV/AIDS and celebrate those still living with the disease. For information about these events, and free and confidential HIV counseling and testing, contact Nina Johnson at (405) 733-0771, ext. 322 or njohnson@guidingright.org.

For more information about World AIDS Day, email info@worldaidscampaign.org  or visit http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/. For information about testing sites, services and programs in Oklahoma call the OSDH HIV/STD Service at (405) 271-4636 or visit: http://hivstd.health.ok.gov.

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Mazopiya Offers Free Informational
and Cooking Classes

Written by at November 15, 2011

Prior Lake, MN – To encourage healthy eating, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s natural food market Mazopiya offers free classes open to the general public. Spaces are limited so register early by calling 952-233-9140.

Mazopiya [mah-zoh-pee-ya] focuses on natural as well as locally produced foods. In the Dakota language, Mazopiya  means “a store,  a place where things are kept.”  Mazopiya offers a large inventory of organic items, including free-range grass fed meats; fresh, organic, and local produce; a deli; coffee bar; smoothie and juice bar; a full-line of groceries, paper goods, breads, healthy supplements, and personal care products, and even pet foods.  Cafe seating is perfect for enjoying the deli offerings prepared by Mazopiya’s on-site staff, and a Community Room hosts classes each month about healthy living and eating clean, organic foods.

For more information or for a complete list of monthly specials, class schedules, and menus, go to

www.mazopiya.com or call 952-233-9140. You can also find Mazopiya on Facebook.  Mazopiya is located at 2571 Credit Union Drive, Prior Lake, Minnesota 55372. Mazopiya is owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

Thursday November 17, 2011, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Cooking to Combat Stress

Work, kids, and the holidays can stress you out. Combat stress with nutrition! In this class Presenter Kate Crosby will demonstrate several tasty (and easy) recipes that can help you manage your stress levels this holiday season.

Monday November 21, 2011, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Sweet Potato Twist

Are you sick of serving sweet potatoes with marshmallows? In this class Mazopiya’s Matt Stiehm will demonstrate several tasty “twists” on the sweet potato. After tasting these dishes you’ll have a tough time deciding which one to serve for Thanksgiving!

Tuesday November 29, 2011, 11 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Brain Building Foods

Worried about your memory? Crossword puzzles and Sudoku aren’t the only things you can do to keep your mind sharp. In this class presenter Kate Crosby will teach you how the right nutrition supports good mood, memory, and concentration.

Tuesday December 6, 2011 11:00 a.m. – 12:00.p.m.

The Food-Mood Connection

When days are short with little sunlight, use the power of food to stay cheerful! In this class, Kate Crosby from Nutritional Weight and Wellness explains the connection between food and positive moods. Learn a mood-boosting eating plan that will balance cravings, anxiety, and your mood.

Wednesday December 7, 2011, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Gluten Free Holiday Baking

Celebrating the holidays with a loved one who has gluten intolerance? Not to worry! Gluten free treats are easy to make and delicious, if you know the tricks! Hosted by BitterSweet Bakery, you’ll learn how to convert your favorite holiday cookie recipes to gluten free recipes so that all of your family and friends can enjoy some home-baked holiday cheer. 

Thursday December 8, 2011, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Amp Up Your Immune System

The holidays are a time for sharing joy, and germs. Don’t let your immune system get frazzled by the business of the season, or by family gatherings. In this class, Kate Crosby teaches you how to boost your immune system naturally. Learn which foods and beverages support immunity, and which ones lower your resistance to illness. You’ll also learn lifestyle tips and supplement recommendations for a strong immune system.

Tuesday December 13, 2011, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Good Mood Food: Cooking Edition

In this class, Kate Crosby will demonstrate several recipes that will help you keep a positive mood. These delicious and easy dishes will help you to naturally keep a smile on your face, your energy up, and your anxiety down.

Thursday December 15, 2011, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Amp Up Your Immune System: Cooking Edition

Prevent colds and the flu by eating smart! In this class Kate Crosby, from Nutritional Weight and Wellness, will demonstrate several recipes that naturally boost your immune system. These tasty and easy dishes will keep you going strong through the winter!


Tuesday January 10, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

5 Steps to Boost Metabolism: Cooking Edition

Did you indulge in too many treats over the holidays? Wondering how to keep that New Year’s resolution? In this class, learn five powerful steps to get your metabolism back on track using real food. Kate Crosby will demonstrate how easy and tasty it can be to eat foods that boost your metabolism and make you feel and look great!

Thursday January 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Artisan Salad Workshop

Don’t get stuck eating comfort foods all winter long! Freshen up any meal with an artisan salad! Pam Powell, owner of locally produced Salad Girl Dressings, will teach you how to incorporate flavorful ingredients into your salads in this fun and creative artisan salad workshop.

Tuesday January 17, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The New Science of Diabetes

Thirty-nine percent of the population is now diabetic or pre-diabetic. That means that four out of ten people have blood sugar problems. In this class, Tamara Brown from Nutritional Weight and Wellness teaches you how to choose carbohydrates wisely to prevent or improve blood sugar problems. Learn a simple formula to detect the hidden sugar you consume every day that puts you at risk for diabetes. Watch your sugar cravings disappear once you learn to manage your blood sugar!

Thursday January 19, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Cooking for Kids: Cooking Edition

Are your children picky eaters? Junk food lovers? In this class Anna Derhak from Nutritional Weight and Wellness demonstrates to parents and children how easy and yummy healthy food can be!  After tasting some delicious and healthy options, kids and parents alike will be excited to try these foods and recipes at home.

Tuesday January 24, 2012, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Better Blood Sugar: Cooking Edition

Diabetics aren’t the only ones affected by blood sugar. Tamara Brown from Nutritional Weight and Wellness teaches how blood sugar affects mood, energy, emotions, and your health. Learn how to prepare a meal that balances your blood sugars to keep you going strong all day!

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The SMSC utilizes its financial resources from gaming and non-gaming enterprises to pay for the internal infrastructure of the Tribe, including but not limited to roads, water and sewer systems, emergency services, and essential services to its Tribal members in education, health, and welfare. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has a charitable giving program which comes from a cultural and social tradition to assist those in need.

Over the past 16 years, the SMSC has donated more than $229.5 million to Indian Tribes, charitable organizations, schools, and Native American organizations. The SMSC has also made more than $396 million in loans to other tribes for economic development projects. Since 1996 the SMSC paid more than $7.5 million for shared local road construction projects and an additional $16.7 million for road projects on the reservation. The SMSC has also paid $12.7 million to local governments for services and another $5 million for other projects.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Minnesota, is the owner and operator of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino, Mazopiya, Playworks, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, Shakopee Dakota Convenience Stores, and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities.

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Country’s oldest white bison dies

Written by at November 14, 2011


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Rock circles linked to ancient Indian site

Written by at November 10, 2011

BLUEMONT, Va. (AP) – Rock circles on a spit of mountain land along Spout Run may be the oldest above-ground Paleoindian site in North America, according to Alexandria archaeologist Jack Hranicky.

He will deliver an address about the site – which he dates to 10,000 B.C. – to the Society for American Archaeology next April in Memphis, Tenn.

The site could put Clarke County “on the Paleo map,” Hranicky said.

The set of concentric circles drew the attention of landowners Chris and Rene White as they were planning to create a medicine wheel on their 20 acres south of Va. 7 on Blue Ridge Mountain.

After talks with his spiritual elder in Utah, Chris, a descendant of the Cherokee people, and his wife, from the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, decided to open their property to spiritual leaders of Native American peoples who have business in the Washington area.

The area including the rock circles was the location that drew Chris White in.

When he was building his house, White said, he would often walk by the creek to take a break.

There, “a still, small voice said, `This land is important.’ I didn’t know what it meant, but I took it to heart,” he said.

As White prepared to put his medicine wheel on the site, he realized that a circle of stones was there – actually, several concentric circles.

“From my experience as a contractor, I knew that was not natural,” he said. “I realized something was already here.”

Someone suggested that White contact Hranicky, who had studied five other Paleoindian sites in Virginia.

He said he saw the pattern in the rocks as soon as he arrived at the site, noting three concentric circles at the western edge, which he believes was a ceremonial area. The inner circle could outline a bonfire space, he said, while the outer ring may have been an area for participants in the ritual to sit or stand.

To the east, touching this area, is another circle that Hranicky calls the observatory.

Here, rocks on the edge of the circle align with features on Blue Ridge Mountain to the east.

From a center rock, over a boundary rock, a line would intersect the feature called Bears Den Rocks on the mountain. Standing on that center rock, looking toward Bears Den, a viewer can see the sun rise on the day of the summer solstice, Hranicky said.

To prove that point, White and his wife took pictures of the sunrise last June 21, he said.

To the right of this rock around the circle, another lines up to Eagle Rock on the Blue Ridge, and with sunrise at the fall equinox (around Sept. 22-23), he said.

Yet a third points to a saddle on the mountain where the sun makes its appearance at the winter solstice (around Dec. 21-22).

“These are true solar positions,” he said.

A dozen feet east of the summer solstice rock is a mound of boulders, piled up, which Hranicky designates as “the altar.”

Hranicky, 69, a registered professional archaeologist who taught anthropology at Northern Virginia community College and St. Johns High School College, has been working in the field of archaeology, for 40 years.

“I had to wait 70 years to find a site like this,” he said.

Dating the site took some digging.

Hranicky was convinced that it was a Paleoindian site, based on the configuration of the concentric circles, the solstice alignment and the altar he has seen at other such sites. But he wanted an artifact.

He picked a five-foot-square area to dig, carefully numbering every rock and setting it aside, to be replaced later.

The reason for that, Hranicky said, is that in the future better methods may be available for dating sites, and he wanted to disturb as little as possible.

His test pit turned up three artifacts. One was a thin blade of quartzite. The second was a small piece of jasper, a type of quartz rock and an important find, Hranicky said.

Jasper was prized by Paleoindians for making tools. It was hard and durable, but could still be worked by Stone Age methods. They traveled miles to find sites where jasper nodules protruded from native rock, and quarried the stone to make projectile points and tools.

The third artifact was the most important. It was a tiny piece of jasper, no bigger than the end of a thumb, but this rock had been worked, Hranicky said. It was a tool, a mini-scraper.

“You don’t know how thrilled I was when we found that little bitty tool,” he said.

Jasper on the site ties what Hranicky believes was a ceremonial and heavenly observation site to another proven Paleoindian site just to the south of Clarke County in Warren County – the Thunderbird site.

William Gardiner of Catholic University excavated that site for several years. Indians camped on the east bank of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and quarried jasper for tool making from bluffs on the west bank.

The Thunderbird site is dated to 10,000 B.C.

Hranicky’s theory postulates that Paleoindians, searching for jasper for tool-making, followed the Shenandoah River from the Atlantic coastal areas some 12,000 years ago.

This coincides with the Younger Dryas period, when the climate turned abruptly colder and drier.

Jasper, Hranicky said, can’t be “knapped” as easily in cold weather, so it would make sense for Indians traveling to find the stone to do so in the summer months.

An Indian “priest” would find it an advantage to know when summer offered the best work climate, marked by the summer solstice, and when the season was drawing to a close and cold weather was on the way (the fall equinox).

A leader who noticed how points on the mountain marked these calendar moments and could predict, with a rock “clock,” these dates, would be a “genius” to his tribe, Hranicky said.

Such times would be natural days for social celebrations of some type, he added. “They visited this place for a reason, like going to church.”

The visitors would have lived on the west bank of the river, a mile away, where it would be easier to find food, he suggested.

White noted that, to Native Americans, stones are considered “grandfathers.”

“If you see all these grandfathers, that makes it a place of wisdom.”

Water, he added, is a symbol of life. Spout Run, which ends in a sizeable waterfall at the Shenandoah River, would be both eye-catching and significant, while things that emerge from the underground, such as the springs that feed Spout Run, are a sign of rebirth.

All these characteristics could make the spot of the concentric circles significant to native people, White said.

Hranicky is applying to have the Whites’ stone circles added to Virginia’s list of archaeological sites.

“It will be recorded,” said state archaeologist Mike Barber.

Barber said several ceremonial observatories across North America are attributed to Paleoindians.

“Jack has recorded several of these types,” he said. “The real problem is proving what these things are. We haven’t arrived at that level yet.”

Barber said he has received a preliminary report on the site from Hranicky, and is trying to schedule a time to visit it.

Is the Clarke County site an ancient solar observatory for early Americans?

Barber is cautious.

“I’m not to the point where I can say that this is one of them.”


Information from: The Winchester Star, http://www.winchesterstar.com

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Mescalero Apaches work to save language

Written by at November 10, 2011

MESCALERO, N.M. (AP) – One word at a time, one student at a time, a group of Mescalero Apaches and their partner, a New Mexico State University anthropological linguist, are trying to stave off the demise of the tribe’s ancient tongue, the wellspring of its culture.

“Like one of the elders said, every step is sacred,” said Oliver Enjady, an artist and former Tribal Council member who is director of Nde Bizaa, the tribe’s language program. “This (language) was given to us by the Creator for use by the Apaches. … It’s who you are, and you can’t change that. If this is lost, then what is your identity?”

The language program team has embarked on a three-year effort to produce a comprehensive English-to-Apache, Apache-to-English dictionary along with an introductory grammar. The dictionary, with about 20,000 entries, will be available in print or compact disc and paired with digital recordings of words for the Apache learner.

“This is not just going to be put away, like in a time capsule,” Enjady said.

The project also aims to expand the tribe’s historical archives with hundreds of hours of audio and high definition video recordings of people speaking Apache, mostly elders reciting traditional stories and personal or community histories. The project team, led by Enjady and NSMU linguist Scott Rushforth, will produce educational materials to be used in Mescalero schools.

The project is being funded with a $321,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities under the agency’s Documenting Endangered Languages Program, an effort aimed at preserving imperiled Native American languages.

Linguists have estimated there were as many as 300 to 500 languages spoken by indigenous people on the North American continent before the arrival of Europeans, but fewer than 200 survive today, said Ives Goddard, senior linguistics emeritus at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Of the remaining languages, the number that children still learn in the home in substantial numbers is “probably fewer than 20.”

There is no definitive data available on language fluency for most New Mexico tribes other than in census data, which is often inflated, said Christine Sims, assistant professor in the department of language, literacy and sociocultural studies at the University of New Mexico. But based on observations from tribal members, it appears “language shift” is occurring in most tribal communities, especially among younger generations, Sims said.

For decades, the U.S. government enforced assimilation policies aimed at suppressing native culture and language: for instance, through the Indian boarding school system developed in the 1870s. In the schools, thousands of Native American children were plucked from their homes and families, and were physically punished for speaking tribal tongues.

Nowadays, the Mescalero Apache dialect, like other indigenous languages, is being ground down by the dominant English-language culture that works its way into the homes of the 4,000 residents in the Sacramento Mountain community through television, radio and the Internet. With each generation, fewer and fewer Apaches speak their own tongue, elders say.

“If we just let that go and just go into the dominant society way of living, we aren’t Apaches anymore. That just bothers the heck out of me,” said Ted Rodriguez, a 74-year-old Mescalero Apache gaming official who is often asked to sing Apache songs at ceremonies.

Based on results of a survey conducted for the tribe, it was estimated in 1999 that less than one-quarter of the reservation population, or no more than 950 people, could speak Apache, either fluently or in part. And the vast majority of those speakers, more than 80 percent, were older than 36.

Last year, officials estimated that fewer than 150 tribal members were fluent in the Mescalero Apache dialect or its linguistic cousin, Chiricahua Apache, according to the NEH application.

The vast majority of tribal elders, those 55 or older, interviewed in recent years expressed the belief that Apache dialects are dying, the application says.

“Without the language, there is no identity. You can say you are Apache, but to what extent?” said Claudine Saenz, 67, whose grandchildren are trying to learn the language. “You don’t know the songs, you don’t know the prayers, you don’t know the ceremonies.”

Apache is part of the Athabascan language family, which includes Navajo, spoken by more Native Americans than any other indigenous language in the U.S. and enshrined in a comprehensive dictionary decades ago. By contrast, members of Cochiti Pueblo refuse to allow their language to be written down or assigned to a dictionary, believing it is most proper to pass on the language orally, said John Grimley, language manager for the pueblo, which has an estimated 1,200 members.

Producing a dictionary and expanding language archives are just part of a multipronged effort on the Mescalero Apache reservation to revive Native American dialects.

For the past two years, with a federal grant for which Rushforth wrote the application, Bonna Dell Ortega has run a language immersion program for children between 2 and 5 who are exposed exclusively to Apache speakers for nearly five hours a day. The program currently hosts 13 children.

“It will give kids a head start on learning to speak,” Ortega said. “These younger ones, they absorb so much.”

Meanwhile, since the early `90s, the tribe’s school system has made an Apache language class part of the curriculum, though all other classes are taught in English. Students must take an Apache language class through the eighth grade and at least one year in high school, said Lola Ahidley, director of language and cultural programs at the Mescalero Apache School, where roughly 500 students attend from pre-kindergarten to the 12th grade.

Ahidley said that, after the years of schooling, many students can understand some Apache and speak simple phrases. “Where we lose them is when they go home,” Ahidley said. “There’s no reinforcement.”

The tribe, through its language program, is producing its own educational materials so that students, and nonstudents, can practice Apache.

Ndee Bizaa media technician Walter Scott, 26, who has studied graphic design and digital media at NMSU, has produced Apache language animated shorts on body parts, colors, numbers and animals. Team members are considering producing how-to videos on topics like cooking fry bread, making a tepee, and self-respect.

An Apache language class is also offered several evenings a week through the Nde Bizaa program. Rushforth explains language structure while native speakers converse with students.

“One word can lead to another,” Enjady told a class of 19 students recently. “It’s up to you guys.”

Apache dialects have their own unique character and feel. Certain words require the speaker to inject a tiny pause between side-by-side vowels. One consonant, expressed roughly as the sound created by a “tl,” requires a speaker to manipulate the tongue in ways that English and Spanish do not.

The language also manifests cultural differences. Apache does not have a word for suicide or for the precise equivalent of goodbye. When two Apaches part ways, common farewells mean “I’ll see you again” or “travel in beauty,” Rodriguez said.

“There’s a place for English, but there’s a place for our language, too,” said language program staff member Sherman Blake, whose bloodlines include various Apache branches — Chiricahua, Mescalero and Lipan. “Some tribes have come to the point where they lost the last native speakers. … This is why we try to teach as many as we can.”

Asked whether she was hopeful the NEH-funded project can reverse the language shift, a term linguists use to describe the replacement of a minority group’s traditional language, Saenz said: “Let’s not say `hopeful,’ let’s say `prayerful.’ We pray that it (Apache) will come back. And us elders have to do our best to bring it back, and this program is a good start.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com

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National Multiple Sclerosis Society scholarship applications are now being accepted

Written by at November 8, 2011

November 8, 2011 Tulsa, Okla. – The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oklahoma announces scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 2012 school year. The deadline for submissions is January 13, 2012. 

The annual scholarship program helps students affected by multiple sclerosis pursue a college or technical school education. It is open to high school seniors who live with MS or have a parent who does; or anybody living with MS who has not yet been to a post-secondary school.

In addition to the emotional toll, MS can have a substantial financial impact on a family. The direct and indirect costs of MS, including lost wages — even for those with health insurance — are estimated at more than $30,000 annually or $2.2 million over a lifetime. This makes funding a college education that much harder.

“We are pleased to say that the National MS Society has provided many high school seniors with college scholarships throughout the years,” said Sharleen Dupee, director of programs of the National MS Society, Oklahoma. “This scholarship program exists to help highly qualified students who have been diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS achieve their dreams of going to college.”

For more information, call 1-800-344-4867, option 2 or visit nationalmssociety.org/scholarship.

WHAT:    2012 National MS Society Scholarships now available
WHEN:        January 13, 2012 – Deadline for application submissions 
APPLICATIONS:     Download an application at nationalMSsociety.org/scholarship, or call
1-800-344-4867 for more information.

Annual Scholarship Program Continues To Grow Across the Country
The Society established its scholarship program nine years ago, and it immediately became a source of great encouragement for families concerned that MS might put college out of reach. In its first year of operation the program awarded 36 scholarships for a total of $68,000; in 2011 over $1 million was awarded to 639 scholars nationwide. Applications are evaluated on financial need, academic record, leadership and volunteer activities, a statement of educational and career goals, and letters of recommendation. Applicants are also asked to provide a personal statement describing the impact MS has had on their life. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 and typically cover one year.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move forward with their lives. In 2010 alone, through its national office and 50-state network of chapters, the Society devoted $159 million to programs and services that assisted more than one million people. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested $37 million to support 325 new and ongoing research projects around the world. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at nationalMSsociety.org.

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and contacting the National MS Society at nationalMSsociety.org or 1-800- 344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and over 2.1 million worldwide.

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Don’t Lose Sight of Diabetic Eye Disease

Written by at November 7, 2011

Thousands of Native American adults are at risk of losing their vision as a result of complications from diabetes

Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people in the United States. In addition, another 79 million people are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition that puts people at increased risk for diabetes. All people with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, are at risk for diabetic eye disease, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.

“The longer a person has diabetes the greater is his or her risk of developing diabetic eye disease,” said Dr. Suber Huang, chair of the Diabetic Eye Disease Subcommittee for the National Eye Institute’s (NEI) National Eye Health Education Program. “If you have diabetes, be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Diabetic eye disease often has no early warning signs, but can be detected early and treated before noticeable vision loss occurs.”

Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that people with diabetes may face as a complication of the disease and includes diabetic retinopathy, cataract, and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, is the leading cause of blindness in adults 20–74 years of age. According to NEI, 4.1 million people have diabetic eye disease and its prevalence is projected to increase to 7.2 million by 2020.

While all people with diabetes can develop diabetic eye disease, African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, and older adults with diabetes are at higher risk of losing vision or going blind from it. All people with diabetes should have a dilated eye exam at least once a year to detect vision problems early. In fact, with early detection, timely laser surgery, and appropriate follow-up care, people with advanced diabetic retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 90 percent.

Don’t lose sight of diabetes/Page 2
Clinical research, supported in part by NEI, has shown that maintaining good control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can slow the development and progression of diabetic eye disease. In addition to regular dilated eye exams, people with diabetes should do the following to keep their health on TRACK:

·       Take your medications.
·       Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
·       Add physical activity to your daily routine.
·       Control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
·       Kick the smoking habit.

“Don’t lose sight of diabetic eye disease,” added Dr. Huang. “Don’t wait until you notice an eye problem to have an exam because vision that is lost often cannot be restored.”

For more information on diabetic eye disease and tips on finding an eye care professional or financial assistance for eye care, visit www.nei.nih.gov/diabetes or call NEI at 301-496-5248.

The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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Tribal colleges in ND, MT to launch jobs effort

Written by at November 6, 2011

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – United Tribes Technical College is getting just under $19 million in federal funding to lead a job training program in North Dakota and Montana.

The money is part of $500 million going to community colleges around the country to support partnerships with employers and develop job training programs.

United Tribes is in Bismarck. It will work with tribal colleges in the North Dakota community of Fort Totten and the Montana cities of Poplar and Harlem.

Officials say the proposal from United Tribes was one of 32 accepted nationwide and the only one from a tribal college.

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White Earth trains in ancient skill: man tracking

Written by at November 6, 2011

NAYTAHWAUSH, Minn. (AP) – In the vast forests and open spaces of Minnesota, finding missing people can be expensive and time consuming, often requiring airplanes, helicopters and dozens of people.

To make such searches more efficient, White Earth tribal conservation officers are learning an ancient skill called man tracking, Minnesota Public Radio reported.

Learning to follow the tracks people leave behind can save time and money, said Al Fox, the tribe’s chief conservation officer. But to do so, searchers must crouch low to the ground to read signs an untrained observer would miss, like footprints buried beneath pine needles and leaves.

“If you get down in here you can actually see little details,” Fox said of clues left in the forest during a training exercise earlier this month. “Like right here. See that imprint right there? That would be the heel strike. That would be the back of the boot.”

Slowly following the trail for several yards through the woods, Fox said tracks left on the forest floor, even old ones, stay visible to the trained eye.

“You’ll see things like broken twigs,” he said. “These pine needles, when they’re this dry and you step on them, they’re going to crack, they’re going to break.”

Grass bruises when it’s stepped on. Moss bends underfoot leaving prints much like you’d see on a thick carpet.

A short way down the trail, three people are studying the ground. They’re trying to follow a two-day-old track created for a training exercise.

One of the students is Steve Dahlberg, who runs extension programs at the tribal college.

Dahlberg teaches a class in tracking animals. But he said tracking humans is much more intense.

“You know you’re training for something really important,” he said. “If you’re out on wildlife sign and you lose a trail, oh well, you go on and find something else. But here there’s a lot more at stake so you’ve got to be able to find that next track. That’s what makes it challenging.”

Dahlberg and several of the White Earth Conservation officers are studying with a retired border patrol agent who trains trackers across the country. Dahlberg said tracking is much more effective than the usual practice of lining up searchers and sending them into the woods.

“Somebody could be on the ground between two searchers and they don’t see them and the person doesn’t alert them that they’re there, and they can go right past, literally almost step on them and not see,” he said. “It’s much more effective to actually follow the person than just flail around in the woods and hope you stumble on to them.”

None of these trackers studying man tracking consider themselves experts yet. But the conservation officers say they use the skills often. Al Fox has helped find a woman lost in the woods.

Conservation officer Sheila LaFriniere recalls a situation when police noted an abandoned car along the road near a lake. She said no one paid much attention until a fellow conservation officer and trained tracker stopped to investigate.

“He was able to see there’s tracks going in but there’s no tracks coming back to the vehicle. So there’s something not right. He’s still here somewhere,” LaFriniere said. “When they broadened the search, he was still on the lake and he was dead.”

Fox is convinced trained trackers could save lives, and help solve crimes. But so far, he said, most law enforcement agencies are skeptical.

Fox thinks that’s because they haven’t seen trackers work, and because it takes a big time investment to become an expert tracker.

“This is something new that we’re bringing to their attention,” he said. “It’s going to be a long battle for us to show that this is more than just a hobby.”

Fox plans to organize more training sessions next spring for anyone interested in learning to track people.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org

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Study: Oral health poor among Pine Ridge members

Written by at November 6, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – Researchers examining the oral health of people living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota found that many members are missing teeth and suffering from periodontal disease, according to a study released Wednesday.

The Colorado-based Center for Native Oral Health Research examined a sample of 292 adults and children for the report. Half of the adults screened had 27 or fewer teeth, many had diseased gums and too few had proper fillings to help combat cavities, the study found.

“We expected the periodontal disease rates to be high,” said Judith Albino, the study’s principal investigator and director of the research center. “But I guess we were still surprised. We weren’t thinking about how high `high’ would be.”

The study also found that 68 percent of screened adults had evidence of some periodontal disease, with 16 percent advanced cases, and 24 percent of adults and 11 percent of children had urgent oral health needs. Children with permanent teeth on average had two decayed teeth, while adults on average had five.

Adults on average had 25 teeth. Adults typically have between 28 and 32 teeth, depending on whether they have their wisdom teeth.

Terry Batliner, the study’s director, said there are 10 dentists on the entire reservation, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, serving a population of about 30,000 people. That’s nowhere near enough, he said.

“We met a number of children who had never seen a dentist before,” Batliner said. “There’s a lot of untreated decay.”

Officials with the American Dental Association, which responded to the study findings late Wednesday, said the findings were disturbing but not surprising. The association heads the Native American Oral Health Project with state dental societies in Arizona, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota to encourage people to “take better command of their own oral health,” according to a statement from association president William Calnon.

“As is the case with most underserved populations, the barriers preventing too many American Indians from achieving good oral health are numerous and complex,” Calnon said. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

Study organizers said the findings were tied to low incomes, as nearly half of Pine Ridge people live below the poverty line. They also blamed what Native Americans eat as their indigenous diet of buffalo, berries and roots has been replaced with more sweetened beverages and fatty foods. And they said there’s a shortage of oral health providers on or close to the reservation, making it more difficult to reach dentists.

Training non-dentists, such as licensed hygienists, to practice as dental therapists might help improve oral health, according to the study. It’s an approach similar to one that has worked well in Alaska, Batliner said.

But Calnon criticized this approach.

“American Indian communities will never drill, fill and extract their way out of what amounts to an epidemic of dental disease,” he said in his statement, adding that “only oral health and education and prevention will defeat that epidemic.”

Batliner said he agrees that more preventative care is needed on Pine Ridge, but he said that won’t treat the cavities and decay that already exist.

The study was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The center, which falls under the umbrella of the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, has begun a separate study that aims to work with new mothers to teach preventative dental care habits, Albino said.

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Indian youth center debuts public service spot

Written by at November 6, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Center for Native American Youth has debuted its first public service announcement, which features Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota founded the Washington, D.C.-based center. He also appears in the spot, along with Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians.

The center premiered the spot Wednesday for tribal leaders attending the National Congress of American Indians annual conference in Portland, Ore.

The 30-second PSA describes Native American youth as the “most at-risk population” in the country. It says the youth center works to prevent teen suicide and improve awareness of other challenges Native youth face, including poverty, health disparities, substance abuse and gang activity.

The center also produced two radio PSAs. It’s working to broadcast the spots in cities and towns with large Native American populations across the country.



Center for Native American Youth, www.cnay.org

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Nev. tribal member wins cattail fight at US refuge

Written by at November 6, 2011

RENO, Nev. (AP) – A federal judge in Reno has thrown out a U.S. wildlife citation issued to a tribal craftsman in Nevada said he who drove off a road on a national wildlife refuge to gather cattails like his ancestors have done there for centuries.

Wesley Dick of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribe argued he had a treaty right to gather the plants at the Stillwater Wildlife Refuge near Fallon as part of his people’s cultural tradition.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert McQuaid Jr. ruled in Dick’s favor on Wednesday and dismissed the $175 citation but said it had nothing to do with culture.

He told the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday it was because the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t post any signs prohibiting off-road travel until after Dick gathered the plants in May about 70 miles east of Reno.

“It’s not fair to cite people if they don’t have notice about what’s prohibited,” McQuaid told the newspaper.

Dick said he’s been collecting cattails at the refuge for more than 20 years and was there in May to get plants to make duck decoys as a demonstration for his son’s school class.

McQuaid dismissed a $625 citation for gathering plants illegally in August, but U.S. prosecutors proceeded with the $175 fine for driving a vehicle off a designated roadway.

Dick, who served as his own lawyer, argued that only tribal courts, military courts or Congress have the right to hear American Indian cases involving cultural issues and that a federal court does not have such authority.

“I tried to base my defense on the (Indian) culture, but the judge didn’t want to hear it,” Dick told the Gazette-Journal.

McQuaid said the game warden who issued the summons to Dick noted that the rules against driving off a designated road are mentioned in a brochure available at the entrance to the refuge, but not all visitors pick up the pamphlet. The game warden testified there were no signs in the area prohibiting off-road travel until some time after he cited Dick.

“I let (Dick) present quite a bit of what he wanted to say, but that was not the basis for my decision,” McQuaid said. “There were no signs out there, so it was a fairly simple case.”


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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UND undergraduates garner research awards

Written by at November 2, 2011

GRAND FORKS, N.D.—UND undergraduate students were recognized for their research accomplishments at the 9th Annual American Indian Health Research Conference and 2011 North Dakota INBRE Annual Symposium for Undergraduate Research held October 27–29 in Grand Forks. Three students won Alan J. Allery Undergraduate American Indian Health Researcher of Promise awards:

Bethany Davis, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, senior biology major and psychology/deaf studies minor, for her presentation titled “Alpha-1A Adrenergic Receptor Stimulation Improves Mood in Mice.” Davis’ mentor is Dr. Van Doze in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Therapeutics

Sarita Eastman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, senior psychology major, for her presentation titled “Spirituality as a Protective Factor in American Indian Mental Health.” Eastman’s mentor is Dr. Jacque Gray in the Center for Rural Health.

Melissa Wheeler, Diné from the Navajo Nation, senior psychology major, for her presentation titled “Alcohol and Other Drug Use among Northern Plains Indians.”  Her poster had also been previously selected as Outstanding Poster by Psychologists in Indian Country at the American Psychological Association conference in Washington, D.C. in August.  Wheeler’s mentor is Dr. Jacque Gray in the Center for Rural Health.

Two UND undergraduates were recognized at the 7th Annual Undergraduate Research in the Molecular Sciences meeting held October 29 at Minnesota State University–Moorhead:

Erin Holdman, senior medical laboratory science major from Kenora, Ontario, received a $400 travel award to present her work at the 2012 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, Calif., for her presentation titled “Structural Analysis of Immuno-enriched FAM129b from Rat Lung Tissue.”  Holdman’s mentor is Dr. John Shabb in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Joshua Maliske, senior biology major from Bismarck, N.D., also received a $400 travel award to present his work at the 2012 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in San Diego, Calif., for his presentation titled “‘TRPC1-STIM1-Orai1’ is the Core SOCE Complex in Proliferating Mesenchymal Stem Cells.”  Maliske’s mentors are Drs. Brij Singh and Joyce Ohm in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

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