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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 15, 2001 - Issue 51


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American Indian Film Company Fighting Diabetes With Food.

by Dawn Quiett Quiett
credits: photo of Steve and Chip courtesy Rich-Heape Films

photo of Steve and ChipDallas, Texas, November 29, 2001- Rich-Heape Films and The Sovereign Nation Preservation Project fights against the Diabetes epidemic in the Native American community with their latest project: Conquering Diabetes Naturally- The American Indian Warrior Diet.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions among Native Americans. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes will affect 16 million Americans, however the disease is more common in the Native American community. Nearly 10 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives ages 20 and above --some 65,000 people-- have diabetes; three times the rate for Non-Hispanic Whites. Diabetes, a chronic disease of high blood sugar caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both has no cure.

Complications from diabetes are major causes of death and health problems in most Native American populations. Most alarmingly, Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, is increasingly being discovered in Native American youth. Type 2 diabetes results from the body's incapability to make enough or use insulin. It is the most prevalent form of the disease. Among those afflicted by diabetes, Native Americans have six times the average rate of kidney failure, 15 to 40 times the risk of leg amputation and 3 to 4 times higher risk of foot amputation.

While there is no cure for diabetes, there are steps that can be taken in order to fight this disease. The most important tool in the war against diabetes is education.

Rich-Heape Films, one the most successful Native American owned production companies in the nation in association with Sovereign Nations Preservation Project is producing a documentary about this growing health crisis. The documentary, titled, Conquering Diabetes Naturally- The American Indian Warrior Diet, will focus on the devastation diabetes has on the Native American community and the struggle Native Americans faces in fighting this epidemic. The film will investigate the effect government programs such as the food distribution program had on the current health problems of the American Indians and will offer solutions to the epidemic, specifically returning to the traditional diet of the American Indian.

Through the efforts of important educational tools such as this film, diabetes can be battled and hopefully eliminated by the current generation. Availability of the film will be made at little or no cost to tribal health clinics, hospitals, educational institutions and any other American Indian organization that could benefit from this information.

Steven R. Heape, President and Executive Producer of Rich-Heape Films, is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, a founding member of the Sovereign Nations Preservation Project, and has been active in American Indian awareness for years. "We’re involved because of the increasing rate of diabetes in the children of American Indians and research shows that controlling this tragic disease is within everyone’s grasp and can be turned around in this generation. We must take responsibility for the health and welfare of our children," says Heape. He adds, "We have been making films that preserve American Indian Heritage and now we are making we a film that will save American Indian's lives."

Shirley Hankins, a citizen of the Choctaw nation of Oklahoma and the Executive Director of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Texas and a board member of Sovereign Nations Preservation Project says "Steve is a community leader and really truly cares about the projects he takes on, they come from the heart and I’ve been extremely proud to be associated with him," says Hankins.

Chip Richie, director of Black Indians and Rich-Heape’s upcoming project has spoken out on the importance of such films and the need to continue the American Indian way of life. Richie says, "We need to preserve and protect the great national treasure- Native Americans, their culture and our heritage."

Rich-Heape Films is a Dallas based and Native American owned corporation and was voted American Indian Chamber of Commerce, Business of The Year in 1999. They have produced films such as Native American Healing in the 21st Century, How To Trace Your Native American Heritage and Tales of Wonder 1 and 2, Traditional Native American Stories for Children. For more information about Rich-Heape Films, please go to

The Sovereign Nations Preservation Project is a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization established to create awareness about important issues facing the modern American Indian. Currently, Sovereign Nations is creating this type of educational media to inform Native Americans about the problems of today and most important the solutions for tomorrow.

Sovereign Nations Preservation Project accepts and appreciates donations, which are tax deductible. For further information log on to their web site at or call 214-696-6916.

*Statistics from the American Diabetes Association

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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