CN receives Indian Health Services settlement funds

BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
02/23/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – At the Jan. 17 Rules Committee meeting, Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo reported that the tribe was to receive settlement funds from the federal government. The settlement between the Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service recoups contract support cost totaling more than $8.2 million.

The money was for unpaid support costs for 1998 in correlation to underpayments of more than $31 million, including interest and underpayments, between 2005 and 2013 and as a result of the Supreme Court case Cherokee Nation, et al v. Leavitt.

According to the 2004 Supreme Court opinion, the “Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act authorizes the Government and Indian tribes to enter into contracts in which tribes promise to supply federally funded services that a Government agency normally would provide.”

It also states the act “requires the government to pay…a tribe’s ‘contract support costs’ which are ‘reasonable costs’ that a federal agency would not have incurred, but which the tribe would incur in managing the program…”

However, in that timeframe the opinion states the reasoning the government did not pay the contract support costs as promised is because Congress had not appropriated enough funds.
https://www.facebook.com/CASA-of-Cherokee-Country-184365501631027/

Less sodium, altered recipes can lead to healthier life

BY STACIE BOSTON
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/09/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Making meal alterations such as using less salt or taking it out completely can lead to a healthier life for most people. Even making simple changes to old favorites such as mashed potatoes can lead people down a healthier path.

Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, said while working with Native Americans he’s stressed that salt doesn’t need to be added to food and could adversely affect a person’s health.

“Salt will retain fluid on your body…that fluid is going to take up lung space. So now you’re trying to breathe around lungs that are trying to fill up,” he said. “If your heart’s not able to pump as well as it used to then the slower your blood stream moves the more some of that salty water will leak off into your ankles and legs, and so now you’re carrying weight around and it kind of waterlogs your system.”

Keeley said he’s had people tell him that they salt their food even before tasting it.

“People have told me, ‘Here’s what I used to do. I use to salt food before I even tasted it and salt it heavy and then taste it.’ Then they say, ‘I don’t do salt anymore.’ I come across a lot more people that tell me that. Those folks are becoming more common, but there’s room for work,” he said.
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, prepares vegetables for a vegetarian minestrone soup at the tribe’s Food Distribution demo kitchen in Tahlequah. Keeley stresses that there are healthier ways to make foods, with the first step being to either limit or cut salt completely. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Prepared mashed cauliflower potatoes sit in a pot at the Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution demo kitchen in Tahlequah. Mark Keeley, a CN clinical dietitian, prepared the dish using a head of cauliflower, two potatoes and a small portion of salted butter. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX A pot of vegetarian minestrone soup sits ready to serve at the Cherokee Nation’s Food Distribution demo kitchen. CN clinical dietitian Mark Keeley prepared the soup in his efforts to introduce people to healthier entrée options. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, prepares vegetables for a vegetarian minestrone soup at the tribe’s Food Distribution demo kitchen in Tahlequah. Keeley stresses that there are healthier ways to make foods, with the first step being to either limit or cut salt completely. STACIE BOSTON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Exercise improves health, life in seniors

BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
02/08/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQAH – Exercise is important, but for senior citizens physical activity is crucial in living healthier and longer lives.

Dr. Jana Jordan, of Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital, said exercising is the “most important thing for seniors to do to stay young.”

With frequent exercise, seniors can delay, improve and even prevent diseases and conditions that come with age such as diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cancers.

“Exercising improves cardiovascular health, so that lowers cholesterol. So in turn that prevents heart attack and stroke. It makes the heart stronger, so that goes along with helping high blood pressure. Almost any condition they may have like heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes is going to be improved by exercising,” Jordan said.

Muscle mass also plays a part in senior health. It declines with age, resulting in loss of balance and bone strength, which can lead to injury. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of death and injury among seniors.
Senior citizens step up on a box to improve balance and joint movement during a senior stretch and exercise class at the Cherokee Nation’s Male Seminary Recreational Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Senior citizens lift dumbbell weights to improve muscles mass during a senior stretch and exercise class at the tribe’s Male Seminary Recreational Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dr. Jana Jordan says exercising and being physically active is the “most important thing for seniors to do to stay young.” KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Senior citizens step up on a box to improve balance and joint movement during a senior stretch and exercise class at the Cherokee Nation’s Male Seminary Recreational Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Mammography exams aid in early detection of breast diseases

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/07/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A mammogram aids in the detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. A specialized imaging, it uses a low-dose X-ray system to see inside breasts. The X-rays make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt.

Screening mammograms can find micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) that can indicate breast cancer. Mammograms can also check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign is found. This mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram.

Besides a lump, cancer signs can include breast pain, thickening of the breast’s skin, nipple discharge or change in breast size or shape. However, these signs may also be benign conditions.

A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found in a screening mammogram or to view tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances such as the presence of breast implants.

Retired nurse practitioner Vickie Love said women’s health was “a priority” when she worked at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell.
Mammographer Kim Fielder performs a mammogram on a patient at Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Clinical trials and studies show that screening mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths among women ages 40 to 74, especially for those over 50. ARCHIVE
Mammographer Kim Fielder performs a mammogram on a patient at Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Clinical trials and studies show that screening mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths among women ages 40 to 74, especially for those over 50. ARCHIVE

Stress can spawn from various life events

BY STACIE BOSTON
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/07/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Stress can come in different forms and be caused by various events such as childhood trauma or everyday troubles.

Chris Wofford, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Services clinical supervisor, said in some cases stress from “past trauma” in young adults can present “similarly” to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or similar “disorders of attention.”

“So they might have difficulty focusing, difficulty staying on task once they start things, difficulty feeling calm or rested. Usually impacts sleep and certainly impact their ability to feel comfortable in groups or around other people. So sometimes that leads to some isolation and stuff like that,” he said.

For day-to-day stress, Wofford said it’s “a little more” identifiable.

“Just regular stress you know day-to-day, ‘I’ve got this homework assignment or I’ve got this task for work that I have to complete.’ Kind of similar, but usually it’s a little more identifiable,” he said.
A “Paper Chain of Healing” hangs on display at The HERO Project office in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. White links on the chain represent a time of self-harm for a youth while the colored links represent times the same youth found courage and strength to resist self harming. If youths need to speak to someone at The HERO Project, they can call 918-772-4004. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
A “Paper Chain of Healing” hangs on display at The HERO Project office in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. White links on the chain represent a time of self-harm for a youth while the colored links represent times the same youth found courage and strength to resist self harming. If youths need to speak to someone at The HERO Project, they can call 918-772-4004. STACIE GUTHRIE/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Transparency is key to teen sexual health

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
02/06/2018 12:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – With misinformation about sex so accessible, talking openly with teens about sex can help prevent unintended pregnancies and decrease risks of sexually transmitted diseases.

Barbara Williams, a Cherokee Nation certified prevention specialist, has taught pregnancy prevention for more than 20 years through programs such as “Date but Wait” and “Straight Talk.” Her mission is to help parents and children talk openly about sex to avoid misinformation, a sharp contrast to how she was raised.

“My mother never talked to me about how to prevent pregnancy or anything like that, and I asked her why. She said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. I figured you would learn it from somewhere,’” Williams said.

In 2015, Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate was 34.8 per 1,000 females, compared to the national average of 22.3, according to the State Department of Health. Within the CN, Adair County ranks significantly higher with an average between 55.2 and 67.4 pregnancies per 1,000.

“I know there’s a problem with teen pregnancy, and I know it goes back to parents not talking to their kids about it, especially in our Indian families,” Williams said. “There are no (Cherokee) words for anything that has to do with sex. We need to make the tribe know there’s a problem, especially in our rural communities.”

Sleep, exercise vital in healthy children

BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
02/06/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Sleep is important. Exercise is important. A good balance of both promotes a healthier lifestyle for children and adults alike.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s website, sleepfoundation.org, children aged 6 to 13 years old need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night. However, there are factors that can lead to difficulty falling asleep, thus reducing sleep time. These factors can also cause nightmares or disruptions in sleep.

“School-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours,” the website states.

It suggests parents should educate their children about healthy sleep habits that include:

• Emphasizing the need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine,
A father and daughter run in the annual Cherokee National Holiday 5K Holiday Run. ARCHIVE
A father and daughter run in the annual Cherokee National Holiday 5K Holiday Run. ARCHIVE
http://www.wherethecasinomoneygoes.com

Therapy improves autism effects in children

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
02/05/2018 12:00 PM
BROKEN ARROW – Autism is a neural developmental disorder identified by social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication challenges. In the United States one child in 68 is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In Oklahoma that rate increases to one in 52 children.

Symptoms are more noticeable in children as young as 18 months. “You can see it through sensory issues and social communication issues and some motor stuff as well, how kids use their bodies,” Rachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, said.

Prime ages for diagnoses are between 2 and 3 years old. Signs include difficulty sleeping, picky eating, being held and the types of food eaten. Babies with autism display no social interaction such as smiling at someone and can get extremely focused on an object or attached to things like a blanket, toy or cup.

Cherokee Nation citizen Nathan Hicks said his daughter, Lilly, was diagnosed with autism at nearly 2 years. He said when she was 1 she didn’t meet certain milestones, and symptoms became more noticeable. At 18 months, Nathan and his wife told their pediatrician that Lilly was different. A psychiatrist confirmed Lilly’s diagnosis after several visits.

Nathan said one indicator was she wasn’t communicating the way an 18-month-old should. Rather she stared at the ground or floor making repetitive noises. “One of the markers that she wasn’t doing was she wouldn’t cross midline. By that, if something was sitting off to the right, she would use her right hand but she wouldn’t reach over with her left hand to get it. It was very divisional. Right hand got the right side things, left hand got the left side things.”
Rachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, stands in the sensory gym at Greenhouse in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The room is one of four used to help stimulate children with developmental disorders such as autism and teach them how to socially interact and communicate. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Rice falls through a sensory tool at Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Sensory tools and techniques are used at Greenhouse to help improve communication and interaction among children with developmental disorders. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Nathan Hicks holds his son, Braden, while his daughter, Lilly, sits between him and his wife, Elizabeth. Lilly was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old. However, thanks to therapy, she attends a regular third grade class and is not in any therapy. COURTESY
Rachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, stands in the sensory gym at Greenhouse in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The room is one of four used to help stimulate children with developmental disorders such as autism and teach them how to socially interact and communicate. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Healthy eating necessary at any age

BY STACIE BOSTON
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/05/2018 08:30 AM
SALINA – Having a balanced healthy diet is important. Tonya Swim, a clinical dietician at the A-Mo Health Center, provides a look into each life phase when it comes to eating healthy.

“Having well-rounded eating habits is about having a healthy relationship with food. It isn’t about depriving yourself of things you love, but being able to balance food that is just for fun and food that provides what our bodies need,” Swim said.

Babies (0-12 months)

For babies less than a year old, Swim said they benefit most from breast milk or formula if producing milk isn’t an option. When a child turns 6 months old, solid food can be implemented into the diet.

Toddlers (1-2)
Healthy eating necessary at any age
Healthy eating necessary at any age

Culture

Mitchell’s metalwork finally hits its stride
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
02/23/2018 08:00 AM
YUKON – Though it’s taken several years for Cherokee metal artist Tommy Roe Mitchell to find his stride, his distinctive style is now giving him the opportunity to pursue his passion while stepping out from his father’s shadow.

He grew up close to the art business, as his father Ron is a well-known Cherokee artist who began his career in the 1970s. While both have experience in metal art, Tommy said he’s now setting his work apart with painting and grinding techniques.

“Dad was doing metal artwork, but he wasn’t doing it to the extent that I am now, not with the color,” Tommy said. “He would actually cut the piece out, grind the edges and heat-treat it, but he wasn’t putting the grinding marks in it like I have. Dad never even thought about using the grinder the way I was doing, so already this was out of his league.”

Tommy said he usually draws inspiration from things he sees on television and YouTube. Once he completes a design on sketchpad, he transfers it onto poster board and then onto 14- to 18-gauge sheet metal with a magic marker.

The design is then cut with a plasma cutter before he uses a grinder to smooth jagged edges and polish out imperfections. Once satisfied, he grinds grooves into the metal to give the illusion of feathers and depth.

“I want a nice, smooth, flat surface to start creating, and that’s when I start with the grinding effects,” he said. “I want a three-dimensional look. People have come up to it and actually felt behind it because it looks thicker than it really is. It’s just the way the grinding is.”

Once the overall look comes together, Tommy heat-treats the piece or moves it to his paint booth before sealing it with an automotive clear coat for a smooth finish.

While expanding his range to include hummingbirds and cardinals, his roots lie in mythical symbolism, including his piece “Dance of the Phoenix.”

“Metal artists, they like doing the eagle feathers. I wanted to do something similar, but I don’t want to copy anybody’s work. We thought, ‘Phoenix, why not?’ Who knows what a Phoenix feather looks like? It’s a mythical bird so this is my interpretation of what the flaming feathers look like. It’s the bird that rose from the fire, kind of like me.”

In addition to creating versions of the phoenix, Tommy creates his interpretation of what individual feathers might look like on the creature. The feathers are called “Phoenix Spirit Feathers.”

He has also taken inspiration from Cherokee myths and legends, including that of the Raven Mocker, a feared witch that preys on the sick and frail.

“I was wanting something a little scary, and I started looking into the Cherokee myths, and we came up with something rather scary, which was the Raven Mocker,” he said. “That one is just a little more dramatic, a little more scary.”

Strangely enough, the blooming of Tommy’s metalwork came after being diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder. “When I was diagnosed with acute anxiety disorder, I did not want to rely on the medication. They gave me that to begin with, and I couldn’t take it. I struggled with that so we talked to a therapist, and he suggested art is a relaxing way of dealing with stress. So I thought, ‘OK, I can do this. This is something right up my alley.’”

Tommy said this is the first time his artwork has been something he “truly enjoys” and is “eager” for the public to see more. “I think they’re really nice-looking, and I feel really comfortable doing it. The greatest compliment on this artwork is when I take it to an art show and someone loves it so much that they’re willing to pay for it and take it home and hang it up on their walls. That’s the compliment that I like.”

For more information, visit www.dragonfiremetalart.net or search “DragonFire Metal Art” on Facebook.

Education

Hoskin earns NSU Centurions honor
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/22/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin is being honored as one of nine Northeastern State University 2018 Centurions.

Centurions are individuals whose leadership and commitment, in the course of helping others, have made a significant impact during NSU’s history. Honors are given to university alumni, faculty, staff, students or any member of the NSU community, past or present, who impacted the NSU community or the public at large.

Hoskin graduated from NSU in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and earned his master’s degree in education in 1998. Along with his service to the CN as chief of staff, Hoskin served 12 years on the Tribal Council, between 1995 and 2007, and is now serving his sixth term as an Oklahoma State Representative for Dist. 6.

“Like so many Cherokees in northeast Oklahoma, my experience at NSU helped define my personal life, as well as my professional career as an educator and administrator. I am profoundly honored to be recognized as a Centurion by my alma mater, an institution where I earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees,” Hoskin said. “One of the most important lessons I learned at NSU is the value of public education. As a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and as a former Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor, I have endeavored to make life-changing educational opportunities more accessible. I am proud of NSU, whose rich history is tied directly to the education of Cherokee Nation citizens, and hope its mission continues to flourish.”

Hoskin is a U.S. Navy veteran and a former Ironworkers Union Local 584 member. He also spent nearly two decades working in public education as a high school teacher and school administrator for Locust Grove Public Schools.

As chief of staff, Hoskin oversees Education Services and is an advocate for the tribe’s continued support of NSU. He is a member of the leadership team that contributed funding to restoration and enhancement efforts for NSU’s historic Seminary Hall.

“Chuck Hoskin’s selfless devotion to serving others is a model that few of us can match,” NSU President Dr. Steve Turner said. “He continues to impress me with his humility and tireless effort to improve the lives of Cherokee citizens and all Oklahomans. He embodies all the values of an NSU Centurion. I am honored to call him my friend and to participate in the ceremony of recognition for this honor.”

Hoskin resides in Vinita with his wife, Stephanie. He has three children, Amy, Chuck Jr. and Amelia, along with three grandchildren.

He and eight other new NSU Centurions will be honored during a March 6 luncheon at 11:30 a.m. at the NSU Event Center in Tahlequah. The luncheon is open to the public, and tickets are $25 per person. To reserve a seat, visit www.nsualumni.com/centurions or call the NSU president’s office at 918-444-2000.

Council

Hastings Hospital lease with OSU med school approved
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
02/19/2018 02:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During its Feb. 12 meeting, the Tribal Council unanimously authorized a lease with Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences to put a medical school in the current W.W. Hastings Hospital after the new Outpatient Health Center opens.

“Cherokee Nation is joining with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, an entity within the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, to bring health care education to W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah,” the resolution states.

The lease will encompass part of Hastings’ floor space and parking space.

Earlier in the day during the Resources Committee meeting, Dr. Charles Grim, Health Services interim executive director, said the leased portion would be located where the current physical therapy, diabetes, orthopedics and optometry locations are. Those departments will move to the new primary health care facility, which is expected to be finished in 2019.

Grim said because OSU is a state university the medical school would not have a Native American preference. However, he said the architecture within the remodeled facility for the school would highlight Cherokee culture. He also said officials would ask Indian Health Service to set aside scholarships and/or loan repayment for Native students wishing to attend the school.

“Its not really an Indian medical school per se, but it will be the first college of medicine campus on Indian land in the country,” Grim said.

Grim said the lease would be for seven years with the option to renew.

In other business, Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Shawn Slaton told Tribal Councilors that CNB is preparing to break ground on April 1 on additional “projects” in the Cherokee Springs Plaza in Tahlequah.

In 2014, CN and CNB officials announced plans to build the plaza with venues for dining, shopping and gaming. In a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, officials said the plaza is anticipated to be 1.3 million square feet of mixed-use space, developed at an estimated cost of $170 million. Officials also said it was to be completed in three phases.

The tribe completed Phase 1 of the project in 2016,which included road construction and pad sites where businesses would be developed. Since then Taco Bueno, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Stuteville Ford have opened businesses at the site.

The next phase is the construction and relocation of Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, officials said. The new casino is expected to feature a resort hotel, convention center and golf clubhouse. The final phase includes the creation of a retail strip.

CNB has not confirmed a completion date as of publication.

Legislators also:

• amended the Concurrent Enrollment Scholarship Act of 2011 to revise the eligibility requirements,

• reappointed T. Luke Barteaux as a District Court judge,

• confirmed Dr. Charles Grim as a Cherokee Nation Health Partners board member,

• authorized the Vocational Rehabilitation Program to donate surplus equipment to the United Wrestling Entertainment Foundation in Cherokee County.

Health

The hidden health inequalities that American Indians and Alaskan Natives face Annie Belcourt, The University of Montana
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/03/2018 02:00 PM
(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Annie Belcourt, The University of Montana

(THE CONVERSATION) I was an American Indian student pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology in the 1990s, when I realized the stark contrast between my life experiences growing up on my home reservation and those of my non-Native peers.

Many incredible family members and friends had sacrificed and broken a trail for me to realize my academic dreams. My rich and generous native culture and traditional ways helped sustain my family over the years.

However, as each year of school unfolded, I lost family members due to early causes of death, including homicide, suicide, motor vehicle accidents, cancer and pneumonia. I had to drive over four hours to the nearest Indian Health Service provider for prenatal visits for my children and nearly lost one child due to lack of access to proper medical care.

Unfortunately, my story isn’t uncommon for most Native Americans. As a collective, American Indians and Alaska Natives live more challenging and shorter lives. These are statistics I’m acutely aware of as researcher in clinical psychology. Understanding the sources of and solutions to these inequalities is the focus of my career.

The Indian Health Service is in the position to change these trends for the better. Outside of Native communities, few Americans know what this agency does, that its leadership is under fire and that the current nominee to head this IHS is a controversial figure. There is much work to be done to reverse American Indian health problems.

Health inequality

The IHS is the primary health care provider for most American Indians. It is responsible for providing health care under historical treaty agreements between the federal government and tribes.

In many ways, American Indian health has improved under the IHS over the past 20 years. For example, infant mortality decreased 67 percent between 1974 and 2009.

But there are steep divisions between the health of American Indians and other Americans. American Indians continue to have lower life expectancies than other Americans and lose more years of productive life. They also have the nation’s highest rates of death due to suicide. High rates of premature death due to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and accidents plague Native Americans.

These disparities are shaped by social inequality, historical trauma and discrimination. Most American Indians live in chronic poverty, with limited access to health care, adequate housing, quality education and adequate law enforcement services.

Early exposure to traumatic events and losses, including sexual and domestic violence, are common for many American Indians. This childhood trauma can translate to a lower quality of life and a wide variety of poor health outcomes.

My home state of Montana includes seven reservations and multiple urban centers of American Indians, with tribal representation from many of the 657 federally recognized tribes. American Indians live on average 20 years less than whites in the state. Montana currently has the highest rate of suicide in the nation.

The IHS has historically been inadequately funded. Federal funding only provides for 54 percent of needed services. Recent estimatesshow increased patient use despite proposed funding cuts. What’s more, the majority of American Indians live in urban settings with very limited access to IHS facilities.

As a result, many American Indian patients receive health care that may be inadequate or of minimal quality. Others must wait a long time for urgently needed care. These experiences have collectively led to a distrust of institutions, including health care centers. Many will avoid or delay necessary screenings and care. It should be a priority to find better ways to create outreach and directly provide services.

Hope for health

These experiences have motivated many Native people to work toward health equity.

Native-led organizations like The National Council of Urban Indian Health, the National Indian Health Board and the National Congress of American Indians have worked to improve health for all Native people. The National Indian Health Board has a number of public health initiatives working to inform tribes on best practices in obesity, violence, suicide and substance abuse prevention. The National Congress of American Indians advocates policies to improve health by engaging elected tribal leadership.

To improve access to health care, some also call for change in the way tribal health is funded and provided. Many tribal communities have even taken over the health care provision structure.

Many tribes have worked to bring back traditional healing methods, education, languages and traditional foods. This revitalization is showing promise to improve health the entire family and community. For example, The Piegan Institute on the Blackfeet reservation created language and culture immersion schools to help restore these practices.

These efforts are important, due in part to the significant lack of Native American health care workers. Many Native patients respond better to Native providers. Some educational programs are working to increase Native health professionals, researchers and educators.

Personally, I have sought a career in public health to help communities explore potential solutions to the many challenges we collectively face as Native people. I sit in my office today, looking upon the photos of family members lost too soon, and reflect upon the hope of healthier futures for my daughters, my niece and all Native youth.

My late father wrote a poem some years ago, borrowing from the Minnie Louise Haskins’s poem “God Knows.” A portion of that prose resonates today:

"I said to the old man who stood at the Door of the Lodge, “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” He replied, “Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of the Creator. That shall be to you better than light and safer than any known way.”

It is my hope that leaders in health harness the many gifts we have as Native peoples to build a healthier future. Our children are worth fighting for.

This article has been updated to include the poem’s correct attribution.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/the-hidden-health-inequalities-that-american-indians-and-alaskan-natives-face-89905.

Opinion

OPINION: CNB investment expands Cherokee language program
BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
02/01/2018 10:15 AM
Preserving the Cherokee language is preserving Cherokee identity, as the heritage and traditions of the tribe are rooted in our language. Our language allows us to pass along traditional Cherokee knowledge and values to our children and grandchildren. That is why I am so proud that Cherokee Nation Businesses has pledged unprecedented financial support to the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program.

Through a signed memorandum of understanding, CNB is providing $180,000 to cover the costs of a language program called the 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program, a pilot program designed for students who originally learned to speak Cherokee at the tribe’s Cherokee Immersion Charter School. We hope it encourages language usage as they progress through junior high and high school. CNB’s monetary commitment will further advance the preservation and usage of the Cherokee language, as graduates of the adult master apprentice program are placed in supervised teaching and mentoring roles.

The new endeavor can be a bridge that unites the mission of our Cherokee Immersion Charter School and the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, which has graduated six students since it began three years ago and is expected to graduate six more students in 2018 and another eight students in 2019. Both programs have proven successful in their respective area, and now we can connect their goals and participants.

This multigenerational effort will help preserve and promote the use of the Cherokee language for generations to come and fill the gap between the immersion school and high school. Our youth, who have been educated in the immersion school, are among the most valuable Cherokee language assets going forward. We have made significant investments in these children, and we must keep exposing them to language-learning opportunities after completing the sixth grade. Now that we have graduates of the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program, we have developed an expert pipeline and grown the personnel to keep our youth engaged after immersion school graduation. That means language lessons can be utilized at Sequoyah High School as well as within community settings. Creating new Cherokee speakers, and in turn letting them pass along what they have learned, will keep our language flourishing for generations to come.

Supporting cultural education and growing the language curriculum will help Cherokee children succeed on their lifelong journey and allow them to reach their God-given potential in school, in life and as Cherokee speakers. The 14th Generation Master Apprentice Program already has about a dozen Sequoyah High School students gathering for lessons after school. Plans are in place for a summer program with participants gathering from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 10 weeks. Those students, if they participate over multiple summers, could potentially get about 2,000 hours of language education just through summer participation. CNB continues to support the tribe in its pursuit of preserving Cherokee culture and heritage. Without the aggressive commitment from our tribal government and our business endeavors, the future of the Cherokee language would be in jeopardy.

People

Dreadfulwater continues loom-weaving tradition
BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
02/22/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – For the past 15 years, Cherokee Nation citizen Janice Dreadfulwater has been perfecting the craft of loom weaving that she learned from her sister-in-law and Cherokee National Treasure, Dorothy Dreadfulwater Ice.

Since she was 5 years old, Dreadfulwater said she’s always “dabbled” in some type of craftsmanship.

“I was sewing when I was like 5 years (old), making doll clothes. My first (craft) was sewing. Then I went over to crochet and cross-stitch. I’ve done some silversmithing, and I’ve done some beadwork. You know, I’ve dabbled in a lot of areas,” Dreadfulwater said.

Once she learned how to loom weave, she said she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“My first attempt was awkward, of course. But once I got the hang of it, it started going really fast,” she said. “It was just addictive.”

In a two-month span, she said she made approximately 20 loom-woven blankets.

Aside from making blankets, she makes scarves and shawls, but blankets are her specialty.

To loom weave, Dreadfulwater said she uses Ice’s loom. However, she’s making her own loom.

“One of my projects is to get my big loom together and hopefully have a place that I can put it. You’ve got to have the space in order to do it,” she said. “I’m in the process of putting one together. I’ve got the frame made, but as far as the hardware, that’s hard to locate for a larger loom.”

She said loom weaving one quilt can take anywhere from a day to a day and a half. “It takes (time) to get it all set up to start weaving, which I don’t like that part, but it’s necessary. The fun part is actually weaving.”

Dreadfulwater said she uses diamond, herringbone and non-traditional patterns in her work and different-sized yarn. She also said she’s never marketed her creations and has only sold one blanket. She said she mostly makes them for “enjoyment.”

“I’m proud to carry on the traditions that the Cherokee people have established and to be creative,” she said. “I just hope that whoever receives the blanket respects what labor of love that went into the project.”

Her donation to the Phoenix is a blanket with a diamond pattern. The drawing will be held April 2. For every $10 spent on elder fund donations, subscriptions or merchandise, one entry is entered in the quarterly giveaway drawing.

For more information, call Justin Smith at 918-207-4975 or email justin-smith@cherokee.org, or Samantha Cochran at 918-207-3825 or email samantha-cochran@cherokee.org.
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Call Justin Smith 918-207-4975

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