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First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let's Move! In Indian Country (LMIC) Initiative at the Menominee Nation in Keshena, Wisconsin on May 25. The initiative will support and advance the work that tribal leaders and community members are already doing to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native children.
LMIC will bring together federal agencies, communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes with the goal of ending childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation.
First lady Michelle Obama sent top federal officials to the Menominee Indian reservation in Keshena to launch a specially targeted "Let's Move! in Indian Country" initiative to help Native children who statistically are twice as likely to be overweight as the general population.
Interior Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk spoke at the LMIC event along with other speakers, including actor Chaske Spencer from the Twilight movie series. Nike N7 General Manager Sam McCracken and Nike N7 Fund Board of Directors Ernie Stevens Jr. were also present.
The Menominee tribe was chosen to host the initiative's launch because 99% of its schoolchildren recently chose to participate in the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award Challenge, which involved exercising five days a week for one hour a day over a six-week period, said Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The Menominee tribe struggles with high rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, smoking, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol. However, the tribe has been developing programs to encourage healthy living.
As part of the LMIC, Indian youth will join First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on June 3 to help the First Lady harvest crops in the White House kitchen garden. They will also plan corn, squash and beans, otherwise known as the three sisters of Indian agriculture.
The group will be joined by Assistant Secretary Larry Echo Hawk, National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel and NFL quarterback Sam Bradford, a member of the Cherokee Nation.
To reach kids through their role models, the initiative is engaging Native American athletes and actors to serve as celebrity spokespersons, including Twilight film actor Chaske Spencer (Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation).
New online public service announcements also feature Sam Bradford, quarterback from the St. Louis Rams and a member of the Cherokee Nation, and Tahnee Robinson, the first female American Indian athlete to be drafted to the Women's National Basketball Association. Both are Nike N7 Athlete Ambassadors encouraging Native youth to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Nike N7 is a Nike program to broaden access to sports among Native American and Aboriginal communities.
The first lady's broader "Let's Move!" initiative, launched last year, aims to eliminate the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. Over the past three decades, rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. have tripled.
The new initiative challenges 25,000 American Indian children across the country to achieve the fitness award.
Tribes can sign up to become part of "Let's Move! in Indian Country" through a new web page that includes step-by-step assistance, resources and information on accessing federal programs and grants to combat childhood obesity and diabetes. The website is: www.letsmove.gov/indiancountry.