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Editorials
Don’t forget the Office of Indian Men’s Health
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by Eric Bothwell, DDS, MPH, PhD and Tamara James, PhD ,
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As the Obama administration winds down its eight years of oversight and support of the health care needs of American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) from federally recognized tribes, a brief reflection on what has been accomplished and what might still be accomplished is worthwhile.

AI/AN witnessed noteworthy milestones throughout the Obama Administration including the Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference and the President’s Executive Order requiring all federal agencies dealing with tribes to develop a tribal consultation policy.  From a funding perspective, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has fared comparatively well during a period when enhancements for such programs were hard fought in Congress. And federally recognized AI/ANs were also included in the Administration’s legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, through the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA).

Unfortunately, many critically needed sections of the IHCIA have yet to be realized. One particularly opportune component is Section 1621V Part A that authorizes the development of an Office of Indian Men’s Health. The logic of this proposal is compelling considering that AI/AN males on some reservations have the lowest life expectancy of any group in America. In addition,  AI/AN males experience death rates two to five times greater than AI/AN females for suicide, HIV/AIDS, homicide, unintentional injuries, diabetes, firearm injury, and alcohol-related deaths, and are 10 to 50 percent higher than AI/AN females for cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.
The inequities suffered by the AI/AN males can be seen in CDC’s National Health Statistic Report (No. 20, March 2010) where AI/AN males displayed greater disparities in health status and general well-being than any racial group. AI/AN men reported the highest distress rates of “feeling hopeless and worthless” of any of the groups. The devastating impact of this despair culminates in the high rates of suicide among these men.

 But before the lives of AI/AN males are taken by these causes, they suffer from multiple debilitating physical and mental conditions. It is clear that dead, sick, and incarcerated AI/AN males are compromised in fulfilling their roles as fathers, husbands, providers, leaders, and contributors to their communities.

We can no longer neglect our male health crisis. In response, many private foundations, states, and cities have developed innovative initiatives and partnerships that specifically prioritize male health.  However, even with mounting concern across the country, no federal health-related agency has established an office committed to addressing male health disparities.
 

The Obama Administration can change the course of male health in America without new appropriations by directing federal agencies to implement offices of male health within existing structures. This should start with establishing the Office of Indian Men’s Health within IHS as authorized by the IHCIA. In 2010, an internal IHS workgroup developed an approach to implement an Office of Indian Men’s Health with as little as a 1.5 FTE commitment and charged with utilizing an entrepreneurial/self-sustaining approach to developing partnerships and coalitions with other agencies and organizations committed to male health equity and leveraging resources. With an anticipated $6.5 billion budget in FY 2017, the IHS could begin the process of turning the curve on male health disparities.

The premature loss of someone’s husband, father, brother, friend, or son results in unmeasurable emotional toil and financial hardship. In addition, the disproportion of U.S. males who have died or whose mental and physical health status compromises their ability to contribute to society represents a real threat to the U.S. successfully competing in the global economy.

The process should begin with the implementation of the Office of Indian Men’s Health authorized by the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.


Dec. From the Editor's Desk
Tuesday, December 06 2016
 
Written by Cat Whipple,
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Donald Trump won the election, much to everyone’s surprise and in many cases, horror. I personally thought it could happen, even though many said it was not possible, given the amount of hatred he spewed out toward every group that wasn’t white, Christian and male. But having grown up in South Dakota in the 1960s, I know just how racist some white Americans can be. So even though I hoped and prayed that he would not get elected, I was not all that surprised.

At it’s core, America has always had a large faction of white people who believe this country is “theirs”. According to those white people, they built this country with their blood, sweat, tears, and superior brain power. And why wouldn’t they think that? Look at what is taught in history classes across the U.S. It’s all about the “discoveries” and achievements of white men. Rarely do people of color (or women) get mentioned in school text books, and when we do, we are side-notes, short chapters (if any at all) that are quickly passed over.

During his campaign Trump threatened to deport millions of immigrants, make Muslims register so they can be tracked and watched, promised to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., and made other racist and xenophobic promises.

People and the media laughed at him and did not take him seriously. They did not understand just how terrified many white Americans are of anyone who is not “them”. Trump tapped into a whole subculture of racism that has existed in this country since its founding. And we now know just how large those numbers are. Trump is a serious threat to all Americans who are not white, male, and Christian. And he and his almost-entirely-white, millionaire cabinet members will move into the Oval Office on January 20th.

The Republican party has continued to lurch further and further to the right, having been taken over by religious extremists who believe that everyone should believe what they believe, if not by choice, then by political force.
One of the first, and scariest, things Trump did was to add Steve Bannon to his transition team. Chief White House strategist and senior counselor to the president, Bannon is an white supremacist who runs Breitbart.com, an ultra-right-wing website that routinely posts racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic trash to its readers. This is the man who will have Trump’s ear, counsel him on national policy, and have an office just down the hall from him.
Another scary person that Trump will bring into his administartion is Jeff Sessions, who was deemed to be too racist to be a federal judge under the Reagan administration. Sessions is Trump’s choice for attorney general.
All of Trump’s talk about deporting Mexicans and registering Muslims has embolden the neo-nazis and other white supremacists, who are now attacking people of color, and anyone wearing a head scarf, while shouting out Trump’s name as justification for such open hostility.

The “Ten Days After” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center,  says that “we document[ed] 867 bias-related incidents in the 10 days following the presidential election. Among them: multiple reports of black children being told to ride in the back of school buses; the words “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” being painted on a church with a large immigrant population; and an elderly gay man being pulled from his car and beaten by an assailant who said the “president says we can kill all you faggots now.””

A friend told me these attacks are now dying down. Are they? Will it all fizzle out? If not, then as people of color, we will have to figure out how to protect ourselves, and each other, from these white supremacists who believe they now have Trump’s blessing to engage in hate crimes throughout the country.

I was saddened to see some Native American people on Facebook in favor of sending Mexicans back to Mexico. We have forgotten that Mexicans (the brown skinned ones) are Indigenous to this continent and are our brothers and sisters. The only difference between us and them are the borders that the U.S. government has created.

Now that Trump is the President-elect, we need to all come together in solidarity with everyone who is now (or soon will be) under attack. That includes all people of color, the LGBT community, Muslims and people of other religions, women, refugees, Jewish people, and our white allies who see Trump and his pals for what they really are – a clear and present danger to democracy, equality and freedom.

If we allow ourselves to be divided by this new administration’s scare tactics, we will all fall. And they will try to divide us, that is how they came to power, after all. They made the brown people of Mexico, and the brown and black people of Muslim faith into “the threat”.  

Trump has also pledged to get rid of Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) which would also cut the Indian Health Improvement Act. He doesn’t believe in Climate change, is appointing oil and gas lobbyists to his cabinet and administration, and has promised to lift “roadblocks” so that oil pipelines can be completed. He also plans to increase the age for social security and would like to privatize it. And even though Trump promised to keep Medicare, his selection of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary sends a clear message that Medicare will be on the chopping block in one form or another.

I think about my 83-year-old mother who lives on $14,000 a year from her social security. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. She has had numerous surgeries over the past five years, and the only reason she is not massively in debt – or worse, dead – is because of Medicare. She is one of millions of elderly who will lose a much needed service that is vital to their health and lives.

We will need to be very vigilant in watching what the new Trump administration will be doing in the legal and political realms, because they will have total control over the executive, judicial and legislative branches of our government. They (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in particular) are talking about getting rid of the Senate filibuster, the same tool they used to obstruct Obama in almost everything he tried to accomplish. Their reasoning? So that Trump can do his work unobstructed. If they get rid of it, the Democrats will be powerless to stop them on almost everything they want to push through.

After the election, a friend said to me, “Each generation must fight for freedom.” Our time has now come to fight. Yes, we Indian people have been fighting for hundreds of years. And we were making progress. All of that is now in jeopardy. If we do not pay attention to what Trump will be doing over the next four years, we will find ourselves back in the 1950s, where Jim Crow-type laws and a supreme court packed with extremist Christians will have complete and total control over our lives and bodies.

I am not talking about taking up arms. We must fight with our minds and hearts, our wallets and our voices. We must get involved, we must organize, we must defend every freedom we have won over the past 50 years. We need to stand with all people who will be targeted under Trump.

So how do we fight Trump? There are a lot of ways, and we have millions of allies, private citizens and politicians, on our side. America is more progressive then it is conservative. But the first thing we must do is realize that the threat is real. “Alt-right” is just a new word for white supremacy, regardless of what the media will try to tell you. Do not listen to those who say, “everything will be ok”. The only way things are going to be ok is if we educate ourselves on what is happening politically, and if we take action when we see dangerous and discriminatory laws trying to be enacted.

We can also fight with love and compassion, we can fight by smiling at people we see on streets and in stores. We can fight by stepping in when we see Trump supporters attacking people. We can fight by not allowing them to silence us. We must not allow them to leave us standing in silence with our heads down in fear while they verbally and physically attack people around us (if that is what is in store once Trump is in office).

This is OUR  COUNTRY, each and every one of us. If we don’t want Trump’s white supremacist cabinet turning us into second class citizens again, we must organize and fight. Like we have been fighting for the Missouri River in North Dakota (NoDAPL), we now must fight to keep America from being completely polluted and poisoned by hate.

Letters to the Editor
Monday, November 07 2016
 
Written by The Circle,
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Donating to DAPL Camp

Good Day Relatives,
I just wanted to send a letter regarding donation sites for the camp in North Dakota. If you are looking to support Standing Rock’s legal fees and camp support (i.e paying spiffy biff porta potties, trash pickups, food, and camping supplies), please go to: www.standingrock.org.

All other PayPal & GoFundMe sites are to support other camps and their campers. As far as Standing Rock Nation and main camp support, only Standing Rock is paying all of the above items. I hope this helps relieve confusion.
In kind clothing and shoe donations for land protectors should be screened for quality. Please be conscious that sending shoes that have cracked soles, and clothing that are soiled or have holes do not help the men, women, children and elders that wear such items.

Donations that are unwearable are discarded, in return this causes more trash to the land fills and more money for the tribe to spend to get it hauled out. Think to yourself “Would I wear this?” before donating.

Also, if you are doing cash donations it would be more beneficial for Standing Rock if you use all funds towards supplies and not to fund trips out to the camp to bring supplies. Using fundraised money to get out to the camp takes away funding that could be used for the camp and land protectors. Standing Rock Nation has the accountability to spend money for items they need and have the means to keep records of where funding is being spent.

Winyan (woman) visitors and campers are urged to wear skirts while at the camp. We are so used to seeing a written enforcement that we forget that in our culture we originally followed oral traditions. The word for camp is wicoti (Wi is the connection to the sun and woman. Cokata is the center where people come together.)

The tipi is symbolic for unity and back then the women were responsible for putting up this sacred structure. There are 13 poles that make up a tipi. The last pole is the strongest and has the tipi dress tied to it. It is put in the back of the tipi resembling the backbone of the structure. This 13th pole represents women, being the strongest and the backbone of our nation.
Back then, when a tipi was put up it meant that ceremony was in motion as every family had a sacred bundle they cared for. At that time women wore dresses and skirts to connect to Kunsi/Unci Maka (grandmother earth) just like how visually a tipi connects to the earth.

Women have the gift to give life, like grandmother earth. When we wear skirts or dresses, it means we connect our sacred energy and spirit to the earth. The wicoti (camp) brings sacred energy together and it is the circle of life.
Isnati (moon camp) also had to be away from the camp. This is done so that the sacred energies do not collide, as both ceremonies are equally powerful.

Lastly, anyone that comes into the camp has to have good energy (sober and positive.)  
Relatives I hope this helps and will assist in your next trip to be done both in respect and representative of where you come from. Be safe, be happy, and Pidama for your support in protecting our Kunsi Maka.
For more information:Visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s website at www.standingrock.org

Toksa,
Graci Horne

Pardon Leonard Peltier

Dear Friend,
Leonard Peltier has languished in prison for forty years for a crime that the evidence shows he could not have committed.  He was prosecuted in connection with deaths during a shoot out where two FBI agents and an American Indian died. His two co-defendants, who were tried under normal court rules, were acquitted. 

Leonard’s trial, which was initiated with an admittedly perjured affidavit, shocked many legal observers as being unfair. Leonard has served more time than others convicted for such crimes.  It is time for healing between the federal government and Native American peoples from centuries of tension and abuse. It is time for Leonard Peltier to come home.

The President has the constitutional power of clemency. He can utilize this power in the interest of fairness and justice.  Many voices around the globe have asked for years for this long delayed clemency. Traditionally, Presidents consider petitions for clemency near the end of their term.  As President Obama approaches the conclusion of his service, it is time for you to join the call for Clemency for Leonard Peltier and request the President act now. Now is the time to be heard.  

Please view and share the video connected to this message. (See: www.vimeo.com/183860129.) The video presents images of Leonard and a new song for Peltier (password: larry).

Also there is a petition for clemency that is being circulated by Amnesty International. Over fifty-five thousand people have signed. (See: www.amnestyusa.org/LeonardPeltier) Your signature will provide added strength.

Additionally you can help by calling the White House at 202-456-1111. Ask President Barack Obama to grant Leonard Peltier Clemency. All calls are logged and available to the President. 

As the song we are sharing with you proclaims, love will lay hatred down.   

Sincerely, Larry Leventhal, Larry Long and friends.

Tobacco is sacred

Boozhoo, Aaniin,
Fall has settled in and Biboon is on his way. The water is getting colder and streams flowing slower. The lakes begin to freeze. Before the first snowstorm we offer our asemaa and ask Biboon to be kind as he lays the first blanket of snow to protect mother earth.

We continue with life and do our work, much like the water and the animals, but first we start with tobacco, pray for mother earth, the water, our medicines, food and our ancestors who came before us.

We need to remind our youth and young adults of this generation and the next about the gifts of the creator and remember that tobacco is always first. Tobacco is a medicine and it is sacred like the water. Smoking commercial tobacco is not a way to send prayers to the creator. We were forced to use commercial tobacco, when we could not conduct our ceremonies in public, because it was against the law to practice our religion, until 1978.

Smoking cigarettes has become a way to deal with stress. Commercial tobacco is very addictive commercial tobacco smoke is loaded with over 7,000 chemicals such as those used in bleach, anti-freeze, and rat poison! Unfortunately, commercial tobacco use has become the norm in our communities, and too many families are suffering the consequences. Big tobacco companies target our people in order to remain profitable, with no concern for the lives lost all around us.

Let’s take a stand and educate our community about the dangers of commercial tobacco use. We need the State of Minnesota to dedicate funding to tobacco prevention efforts in our community so the next generation does not face the same consequences from commercial tobacco use. Let’s work together to keep tobacco sacred.

If you would like more information on this and or would like to be an advocate for change in your community, please call me and join us and take a stand and keep tobacco sacred.

Thank you,
Suzanne Nash

www.indigenouspeoplestf.org
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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 www.vax4teens.com 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

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