Protect your teens with vaccinations
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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Have you scheduled a back-to-school doctor visit for your preteen or teen?
As kids get older, the protection from some of their childhood vaccines begins to wear off. There are also new diseases that teens can come in contact with in this stage of their lives. Keep your teens healthy with the meningococcal, HPV, Tdap, and influenza vaccines.  
 • Meningococcal Vaccine (MCV4, MenACWY): Meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the germs that can cause two serious infections. One of them is meningitis, which is swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. The other is a life-threatening blood infection. Your teen needs meningococcal vaccine at 11 or 12 years old and again at 16 years old.
• HPV Vaccine: This shot is cancer prevention! Almost all people will be infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) at least once in their lives, and some forms of HPV can cause cancer at six different sites in the body, including the cervix and an area of the throat. There is no way to predict whether an HPV infection will be a type that may turn into cancer. HPV vaccines help protect against HPV infections and the cancers they cause. Teens need a series of three HPV shots. They can get these shots as early as age 9, but the shots are usually given with the other vaccines for teens at 11 or 12 years old.
• Tdap Vaccine: This vaccine protects against three serious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Your teen should receive the Tdap vaccine at 11 or 12 years old.
• Influenza Vaccine: This vaccine protects against influenza (flu) and should be given every fall. The flu can cause health problems such as dehydration or lung infections.

When should my child be vaccinated?
A good time to get these vaccines is during a yearly checkup. Your teen can also get these vaccines at a physical exam required for sports, school, or camp. Even teens who missed these vaccines at 11 or 12 years can still get them at older ages. It’s a good idea to ask your health care provider at every visit if there are any vaccines your teen may need.
What else should I know about these vaccines?

All vaccines are studied in thousands of people before they are recommended to the public. Researchers check to be sure that less disease occurs in people who get a vaccine. They also make sure the vaccine doesn’t cause serious side effects. Vaccines can cause mild effects, like soreness or redness at the spot where the shot was given, and some people cannot receive certain vaccines because they have allergies to the ingredients. Occasionally, teens faint after getting any kind of shots. It’s a good idea to sit for 15 minutes afterwards.

How can I get help paying for these vaccines?
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides free or low-cost vaccines for some children and teens. Talk to your health care provider to find out if you’re eligible. Visit for more information on keeping your teen healthy and happy.

Be Aware of the Effect of Drugs and Violence on Native American Children
Friday, August 05 2016
Written by Rosalinda Salazar,
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I am a 9th grade Native American student attending South High School. I was recently assigned to do a Ripple Effect Project of my choice. I chose drugs and violence in the Little Earth Community. Currently there is a huge problem with drugs and violence within the community.

I chose Little Earth because I have strong ties to the community. I once lived in the community. In my early childhood I lived and attended preschool there. I witnessed friends and families lose their loved ones and homes, and some have lost their lives due to the drugs and violence.

I have interviewed five individuals living or working with our community. Two of them are long time residents and elders of United Tribes of Little Earth community. Two of them are youth workers currently working in the community. And a Native American Teacher working with Native American students from the Little Earth community. I chose drugs and violence because of the ripple effect it is having on our children, our elders and the Native American community.

My goal is to bring awareness of the effects these current issues are bringing to our community, our Native American people. It’s time to stand together and strengthen our community and our Native American people. Currently with in the Little Earth Community drugs and violence are a huge problem. Children are losing their homes and families and friends due to the drugs and violent outbreaks. Children are losing hope. Children are losing their parents and the place they once called home.

Also, many of our youth are no longer grasping their hopes, dreams, or their futures because of the drug and violence around them. Our children and our elders should be proud, protected, and able to enjoy everyday living in the community. Our children and elders should be able to help one another.

An elder of the Little Earth Community stated, “the community is no longer as strong as it once was, and the effect on the community is devastating.” Another long time resident and elder stated “we can’t even enjoy the beauty of watching our children play in the park or community without viewing violence or getting approached by drug dealer or drug addicts.”

These elders love their community and they want a safer environment for the community. A youth worker within the community stated, “Personally, I’m viewing the youth believing that violence is the only option. However, some want to resolve the issue without violence but the end results leaves no choice but for the youth to defend themselves”.

Youth workers state the young are using social media to expose violent acts on others, and to expose adults walking around like zombies due to the drug use. These youth workers love working with the children and want to show our children positive role models.

A teacher for our children of the community states “The drug epidemic right now is leading to many death and violent acts within the community, and has a huge effect on our youth.” Although the drugs and violence within the community are a huge issue, things such as youth programs, sobriety programs and security on foot is helping slow down the drugs and violent outbreaks within the community.

It’s time for the Native American community to join this fight against drugs and violence. It’s time to strengthen one another. It’s time for unity as a community! Rosalinda Salazar

What you need to know about infant immunization
Thursday, May 05 2016
Written by The Circle,
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immunization_chart_fcr_children.jpgVaccines are a very important part of protecting your children and yourself from some serious diseases. Anyone who has seen a person die or get very sick from a disease that could be prevented by a vaccine knows how important they are.  

Immunizing your child is one of the most loving things you can do. Shots work. Shots are safe. They have very few side effects. The benefits far outweigh any risks.

Immunization starts before a baby is born when the mom gets shots to prevent whooping cough (pertussis) and flu when she is pregnant. These vaccines help keep the mom and baby from getting sick. It is important for dads, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and anyone else that will be spending time with your baby to get their whooping cough and flu vaccines too. This protects the newborn baby until they get their own vaccinations.
Be sure to get shots at the right ages. Kids get most of their shots by 2 years of age. But if your child is behind, they can still get vaccinated.

We don’t see some of these diseases very often anymore. That is because vaccines work. Vaccinations help keep children healthy so disease does not spread in our communities.

It is okay for a baby to receive several shots at the same time. It helps the immune system to grow stronger. Sometimes babies will be fussy or have a slight fever for the first day after shots– this is common. If you have any questions your health care provider will be happy to answer them.

Before you leave the clinic schedule the next appointment and ask your clinic to give you a shot record for each child. You will need them for the doctor, child care, Head Start, school, camp, and even college.

Sometimes parents are worried about how much shots cost. Free or low cost shots are available through the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program.

Find out if your child can get free or low cost shots at the website:

Historical Trauma of the American Indian People
Thursday, May 05 2016
Written by Nick Boswell,
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Historical trauma for American Indian peoples have encompassed wars, massacres, genocide, imprisonment, reservations, boarding schools and continued oppression and racism. The effects of historical trauma have had a horrific impact on the health and welfare of American Indian peoples for over 500 years – alcoholism and drug addiction, many health (including mental) issues, poor education, and poverty. All of this lands squarely on the shoulders of our children.

In September, 2000, Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs described the effects of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) handling American Indian boarding schools, “They forbade the speaking of Indian languages prohibited the conduct of traditional religious activities, and made Indian people ashamed of who they were. Worst of all, the BIA committed these acts against children entrusted to its boarding schools, brutalizing them emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. The trauma of shame, fear and anger has passed from one generation to the next, and manifest itself in the rampant alcoholism, drug abuse and domestic violence that plague Indian country.”

Alcoholism in American Indian communities nationwide is not only a critical health issue, but is the leading cause of death in these communities. In Minnesota between the years 2000 and 2007, according to the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, 42% of American Indian deaths were related to alcohol abuse. These include motor vehicle accidents, suicide, homicide, alcohol poisoning, and heart and liver disease.

This stark picture has not changed for the past 20 years, and in fact is increasing with each new generation.
Our American Indian experience is the psycho-social impact, depending upon a particular tribe’s geographic location and historical experience, of from one to five hundred years of the most brutal genocide, ethnocide and forced acculturation the world has ever seen. The effect of this holocaustic experience for both the individual and the tribal group is, of course, trauma. The result of this trauma is a condition that has come to be known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD has a generic application and can be either acute or secondary. The secondary form is reactive and can have a major inter-generational effect or it can be passed on to children and grandchildren. Acute PTSD can be defined as the normal human reaction to severe trauma, shock or pain. Acute PTSD can occur within an individual as a result of dramatic environmental change, including involuntary displacement or relocation, or being in a natural disaster; as a result of physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual assault, abuse or neglect; as a result of war-like conditions, including experience in battle, experience as a prison-of-war, civil imprisonment, involuntary subjugation at a boarding school, experience in a concentration camp (which is what our reservations were at first), experience as a hostage (including experience with a violent, dominant spouse or suffering a long-term or terminal illness); or as a result of a loss of a close friend or relative to death.

Secondary PTSD can be defined as the normal human reaction by an individual who is in a close interpersonal relationship with someone who is suffering from acute PTSD. Usually this will include a member of the acutely traumatized individual’s nuclear and/or an extended family, a lover or a close friend.
Secondary PTSD can also have an inter-generational effect, and here is where it is most harmful. Those suffering from the reactive type of secondary PTSD often change their behavior patterns and actions in order to cope with the behavior of the person with acute PTSD. These usually negative reactive behaviors and actions can then become learned by the following generations as “normal” behaviors. People never know that what they have learned was not the way it traditionally was in their tribe. These patterns of behavior and actions are identical to those that are found in families of alcoholics and especially with adult children of alcoholics.

There are a number of phrases that persons go through and they are different for different kinds of trauma. For acute PTSD they include:
1. Impact, shock
2. Withdrawal, repression, submission, resignation, insensibility, emotional numbing
3. Regression, ambivalent anger, acceptance, acquiescence, unrealistic optimism, honeymoon
4. Compliance, anger, ambivalent anger, dependent aggression, disappointment, euphoria, emotional anesthesia
5. Trauma mastery, recovery, reconstruction, reorganization

There are a number of different psychological or behavioral symptoms that a person with acute PTSD will have and which ones they have and how severe the symptoms are depends upon what kind of trauma they experienced and how severe it was. In helping a person to face their experience and begin to heal themselves, you must let them know that some of these behaviors may get worse before they get better. Theirs is a normal reaction and the symptoms include: phobias, guilt, shame, blunted emotions, depression, anxiety, hostility, substance abuse, anger, fear, isolation, acting out, feelings of failure or helplessness, mental or verbal liability, increased or decreased sexual function, increased or decreased work function, paranoia, déjà vu, flashbacks, irritability, disassociation, or inefficiency.

There are also a number of psychophysiological symptoms that a person will experience. These symptoms may also get worse before they get better during the healing process and it is important that you let the person with acute PTSD know that this is normal. These symptoms include: Insomnia, nightmares, night tremors, bedwetting, sleepwalking or sleep talking, skin disorders, trembling, hypertension, hyper-alertness, sexual inhibition, diarrhea, digestive disturbances, back trouble, migraines, restlessness, distorted perceptions, fatigue, verbal-audio-speech disorders, weight loss or gain, anorexia, diaphoresis, or tachycardia.

The process of therapy for the acutely diagnosed individual is much like that done in grief therapy and the individual will follow the same stages of denial, acknowledgement, rage, acceptance and mastery. However, there are some important variables in each individual’s experience that must be considered:
1. Intensity of trauma
2. Type of trauma
3. Length of episode
4. Whether trauma is by human hand
5. Age of onset of trauma
6. Stage of individual’s development
7. Length of time since event

Once an individual is past the denial stage and acknowledges the episode(s) it is important that you validate the pain of the trauma, validate them as a human being and, let them know that is was not their fault and they are not alone. It is also important to remember that the experience of trauma creates a “victim mentality” within the individual that becomes part of their identity. You must always confront the individual’s behavior and thinking regarding this “victim mentality” or they will not heal.

With the secondary form of PTSD that is inter-generational, this “victim mentality” can become a part of the family’s, or overall tribal group’s, identity as well. This is especially true for tribal groups that experienced one or more group traumas or the group experienced a series of individualized traumas over the same period(s).
For the individual and the group it is extremely important to point out that they are not to blame for many of their behaviors, because they were learned from those suffering acute or secondary PTSD. It must also be pointed out that many of their parents and grandparents cannot be blamed for their behaviors because they too, were innocent victims who never received help for their own personal trauma.

At the time that severe trauma was thrust upon our Native peoples the group therapy capabilities of each tribal group was being destroyed as well – and there was nothing to replace these capabilities when they were most needed. This destruction of the healing process only exacerbated an already very wounded psyche by increasing the sense of alienation in a spiritual context.

All of this trauma was external to our Native peoples and we cannot “own” the behavior of those who brought this trauma to us. What we can do is heal ourselves and put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetuators. After all, it is common sense to know that a rape victim cannot be blamed for being raped and our people for many generations have been raped physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Because of this holocaustic experience we now suffer daily re-victimized, lack of self-esteem, the highest levels of substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies. We also indulge in many other forms of self-destructive behaviors, including high levels of suicides.

We can successfully treat acute PTSD if therapy begins soon after the onset of the trauma. It is more difficult however, the longer it has been since the onset of trauma.

Much more work is needed to serve the “victim mentality” from the individual’s identity. Secondary PTSD in its primary reactive form is treated much in the same way as acute PTSD. The inter-generational form, however, is much more of a problem for treatment since you are dealing with learned behavior, and although easy to acknowledge, behavior is learned over much of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood – this will take time to learn and relearn new ways of coping and being in the world.

It is suggested that for both individual and group work, a self-empowering form of therapy be used that is culturally reinforcing. The task is a difficult one that we are also in the process of healing our ancestors as we try to heal ourselves.

As we approach the future there remains a great need in addressing the idea of Inter-generational PTSD. The hope is that empirical and theoretical work in this area is encouraged, since presently we have more questions than we have answers – especially in the treatment area.

Western civilization has always assumed that radical change can be brought about by changing the environment. That is why emphasis has always been placed on change in structure. This approach has failed to produce proper results. It has ignored the need to bring about change within men and women themselves and has concentrated on change in the outside world. What is needed, however, is a total change – within American Indian people them-selves, as well as their social environment. The starting point must be the hearts and souls of American Indian men and women, their perception of reality and of their own place and mission in life.

Duty to Warn: Northern Minnesota and the PolyMet Project
Friday, February 05 2016
Written by Gary G. Kohls, MD,
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PolyMet’s Tailings “Pond” could someday create a dead St. Louis River and a dying Lake Superior. Is that an acceptable risk to take?

In the December 23rd edition of the Duluth News-Tribune, a staff writer, using the byline of “News Tribune”, wrote a Local News article with the title “EPA signals its support for final PolyMet review”. The article ended with this (intentionally?) deceptive and woefully insufficient sentence, “Critics say the project is likely to taint downstream waters with acidic runoff”.

I will attempt to correct the notion that “acidic runoff” is the major reason for the widespread opposition to PolyMet’s proposed copper/nickel mining project (which is adjacent to the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness). PolyMet, it should be mentioned, is a total novice when it comes to operating copper/nickel mines.

On August 4, 2014, a mine at Mount Polley, British Columbia had its huge tailings pond dam (an earthen dam) suddenly burst, massively polluting downstream streams, rivers and lakes, not to mention aquifers which had already been polluted during the years before the catastrophe. The millions of tons of toxic sludge flooded into the migratory Sockeye salmon-bearing Fraser River, the 800 mile-long British Columbian river which empties into the Georgia Strait and the Pacific Ocean at the city of Vancouver.

Typical of most government and industry responses to such catastrophic mining industry failures, the Conservative Harper government of Canada – not to mention the ruling Liberal government of British Columbia – tried to cover up the disaster. Hence, most North Americans on either side of the border (certainly us Minnesotans) were not made aware of the catastrophic event.

Imperial Metals Corporation of Vancouver, the owner of the mine, admitted that they had been dumping the following toxic metals into the slurry (aka “slime”) pond in the years leading up to the failure of the earthen dam. The agency reported that the metallic contaminants that had been dumped in the tailings pond included: Lead, Arsenic, Nickel, Zinc, Cadmium, Vanadium, Antimony, Manganese and Mercury.

Any one of these 9 heavy metal contaminants are highly poisonous and have no safe levels in drinking water or in the serum or tissues of human or animal bodies. These contaminants, commonly found in hard rock mines, are also lethal to plant life, but only when they are ground up into fine powder form in the mineral extraction process.

It is important to recall that polluted aquifers can never be de-toxified by any known process.

If they don’t breach and spill massive amounts of toxic sludge into the environment like at Mount Polley, they leach that contamination slowly, poisoning the waters and lands around them.

The Hazeltine Creek, that enters into Quesnel Lake was the deepest, purest lake in British Columbia and a famous trout and salmon fishery, until August 5, 2014, when 24,000,000 cubic meters of toxic water and sludge breached the Mt Polley tailings dam and virtually exploded downsteam.

Millions of floating dead trees were swept away in the massive sludge flood. The only useful thing that the Imperial Mining Company could do in the immediate aftermath was to try to break up the floating logs so that they wouldn’t destroy downstream bridges as the poisoned water flowed into the Quesnel River (which ultimately empties into the Fraser River and then into the Pacific Ocean at Vancouver, B. C.).

In November 2015, the heavily contaminated sludge from Brazil’s worst environmental disaster at the Samarco iron mine, destroyed mining and non-mining communities that were situated downstream. The massive volume of toxic sludge entered the Rio Doce river in a sudden, thunderous flood (ironically, “doce” means “sweet” in Spanish). The toxic slime polluted and killed everything in its way as it flowed toward the Atlantic Ocean, a distance of 300 miles.

The guilty mining company perpetrators were as helpless in dealing with the aftermath as were the human, animal and aquatic victims. Samarco, incidentally, is co-owned and operated by the mining giants, Vale (Brazilian) and the largest mining company in the world, BHP Billiton (British-Australian).

Northern Minnesotans, Native Americans, sportsmen, environmentalists, wild rice harvesters, and working folks who need non-toxic water to survive must understand that such a catastrophe could destroy the aquifers in the BWCAW, Birch Lake, the Partridge River, the Embarrass River, the St. Louis River, the city of Duluth and ultimately, Lake Superior.

Any human with an ounce of morality would conclude that the risks of allowing PolyMet (or even a veteran company like PolyMet’s major investor, Glencore) to operate an open pit sulfide mine in the pristine areas of northern Minnesota are just too great. States that surround Lake Superior and the other great lakes downstream should have a say in the issue as well. The problem seems to be that amoral multinational corporations can’t be expected to act as one would expect ethical humans to act, especially when profits are involved.

Videos of the Mount Polley tailings pond failure can be viewed at:, and

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN. He writes a weekly column for the Reader, Duluth’s alternative newsweekly magazine.

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