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. Journey to Wellness on KUMD is made possible by Ampers and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  

©Jonathan Thunder. Used with permission.

Duluth's indigenous community is gathering at City Hall on this rainy Monday to sing, celebrate a new eagle staff, and observe a moment of silence.

Colombus Day has been controversial for a long time now; many people see his "discovery of the New World" as the first step down a long road of devastation for the people who were already here.

But in Duluth, organizers are moving from "a day of mourning" to one of celebration - one that can make their children proud of their heritage.

©Kelly Hallman

Parents want to keep their children safe from anything that could harm them - including information.

Parents of Black sons report painful conversations with them about how society may treat them, but Kelly Hallman, the director of IMAGEN (Indigenous Adolescent Girls' Empowerment Network) says Native girls are already tuned into the dangers they see around them.

For years, the existing Thunderbird-Wren Halfway House and Treatment Center has been providing individualized treatment to those suffering from chemical dependency.  However, its facility on 4th Avenue West in Duluth is showing its age.

American Indian Cancer Foundation

For some Native American communities, there's a taboo against using the "C word" (cancer).

But Kris Rhodes of the American Indian Cancer Foundation says people need to learn to say it - and the sooner the better.

(This episode of Journey to Wellness in Indian Country was originally aired in March 2017)

Courtesy Vince Rock

Remember hearing about doctors making house calls?

People living on the Leech Lake reservation don't always have transportation to get to one of the seven community clinics.  And it's a big place. 

Duluth Public Schools/Facebook

Parsing the difference between "equality" and "equity" is the kind of thing you might expect in a school assignment.

The Duluth School Board is trying to do just that when it comes to compensatory education funds for schools, but the Education Equity Alliance, the Duluth Indigenous Commission, the local NAACP and several other community groups are giving them low marks so far.

People who would like more information on the work of the Education Equity Alliance can contact Dr. Mary Owen here:

©Dana Mattice

Artist, cartoonist and filmmaker Jonathan Thunder talks about art/Native art, artists/Native artists ... and arriving at a place where he most concerned with pleasing - or amusing - himself.

©Ivy Vainio

Giishpin bi-izhaayan kiwenz ojibwemowin gabeshiwining gidaa-gashkitoon ji-agindaman o’o ikidowinan.

©John Krumm

Four Native American doctors graduated from UMD's Medical School at the beginning of May.

Zoongide'win (zoon GED eh win) means "strong-hearted" in Ojibwe, and it's also the title of an exhibition this week of maps, manuscripts and the resilience of the people who were here long before Europeans arrived.

University of Minnesota Duluth

It took more than two years of conversations with Minnesota's eleven tribes and five University of Minnesota campuses to produce a draft update of the Board of Regents Policy: American Indian Advisory Boards for the University of Minnesota system.

And while it's still in the system (slated for discussion in September and passage in October), one of the policy's chief architects, Tadd Johnson, hopes it results in the inclusion of a representative from each of the Minnesota tribal nations on the Advisory Board.

Howl Arts Collective Montreal/Flickr

Duluth's ongoing conversation about Earned Safe and Sick Time is a critical one for people who risk their jobs if they take time off to care for a sick child or are seeking help in instances of domestic abuse.

In Duluth's Native American community, over 30% of the population is homeless.  80% of mothers are the primary breadwinners for their families. And 46% - compared to 26% of the general population here - are living below the poverty line.

So as you might imagine, issues surrounding income and job security - not to mention aid for victims of violence - are big deals.

Melissa Boyd

When Melissa Boyd started her Ojibwe language studies with elders, she discovered she was learning more than words.

For one thing, her studies were teaching her things about herself as an Anishinabe person; things that weren't included in public school or even tribal school curricula.

She believes that part of low Native graduation rates have to do with missing pieces of their education: students don't learn about themselves, their issues, their community, their strengths and their history.

©Dakota Wicohan

Sixth grade in Minnesota traditionally means a lot of learning about lakes and iron ore and Scandinavian immigrants, and usually there's a field trip to the State Capitol thrown in.

But the part of the state's history that deals with its first nations is either glossed over or skipped altogether, and in addition to leaving non-native students clueless about a large part of Minnesota's past - and a large part of our population - it makes Native students feel as though their experience has been erased.

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