Journey to Wellness in Indian Country

Journey to Wellness // Monday 8:00am
A 10-minute bi-weekly program on Native American Community Health in MN and around the country in partnership with the UMD Medical School, Center of American Indian and Minority Health. The program will feature interviews with medical and health researchers, professors and doctors plus native people active in Native American health today.  

©Derek Jennings

Many European Americans have a hard time understanding the concept of "historical trauma."

After all, if something happened decades or even hundreds of years ago, it's over; "move on," right?

The Australian Human Rights Commission explains historical trauma as  "the devastating trauma of genocide, loss of culture, and forcible removal from family and communities ... all unresolved and ... a sort of ‘psychological baggage... continuously being acted out and recreated..."

Center of American Indian and Minority Health

Native people in Minnesota die, on the average, ten years sooner than all other Minnesotans.

Part of that statistic comes from poverty and limited access to health care.

But the Center for American Indian and Minority Health at UMD is working the problem from both ends: recruiting Native students into careers in medicine so they can return to their communities and provide medical care.

©Derek Jennings

Wellness is more than just an absence of disease.

It's physical and mental health, and as Native people are moving forward in their journey toward that health, they're doing so by looking backwards: back to the cultural and natural landscape that kept them well long before the time of frybread.

Center of American Indian and Minority Health

Health care for Native people isn't a handout - or even optional, for that matter.  Treaty rights guaranteed health care for Native people ... but the Indian Health Service is chronically underfunded.

Dr. Mary Owen, the director of UMD's Center of American Indian and Minority Health says teaching aspiring doctors about health care disparities in Indian Country needs to be part of the national curriculum.  And even if they don't go on to practice medicine on reservations, they will be positioned to advocate for policy changes.

Dr. Melissa Walls

When Mike Connor agreed to conduct some interviews with doctors, families and people who have diabetes in the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, he knew the information he was helping to gather for the University of Minnesota Medical School Duluth was going to be important.

So many people on the reservation near Nett Lake have diabetes that it's one of the things ambulance drivers are required to ask about when they arrive to help someone.

But he didn't expect the "side effects" of the research: helping people with diabetes feel less isolated and alone.

Photo courtesy Laura Lhokta

Laura Lhokta was raised on the White Earth Nation in northwestern Minnesota, and she's looking forward to going back when she completes her schooling.

Laura is a medical student at UMD who plans to go home to her tribal community after she graduates.

She talks of the family and friends she has cheering her on back home, but admits it's not that way for every kid on the reservation.

©Stacy Rasmus Photo used with the permission of Billy Charles and Lawrence Edmunds

The University of Minnesota is looking for nationally-recognized researchers and leaders in their field to head four teams focused on solving health issues important to Minnesota and the nation.

It plans to create four Medical Discovery teams, recruiting prominent researchers in four areas of medical discovery.

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