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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 8, 2003 - Issue 82


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Health and Wellness

by Geoff Hampton
credit: Arctic Hopscotch by Barbara Lavallee

Arctic Hopscotch by Barbara LavalleeAt a recent Childhood Obesity Conference that I attended here is San Diego, Dr. Richard Carmona, The US Surgeon General declared the state of obesity in our country as the number one cause of preventable death, surpassing even smoking. He went on to say that the state of obesity is actually "A threat to national security". Its time for all of us to get involved!

This problem obviously is not just a problem for our children. It has had devastating effects on the adult population too. In fact, the Native American Community has borne a significantly disproportionate rate of affliction in this national crisis. Premature death and catastrophic illness directly related to a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutritional habits, low self-esteem and general feelings of hopelessness have crippled communities all over North America.

Last year I was asked to join a Native American Diabetes Group online. At first I thought it was a great idea and it was. The person who created it had great intentions. The following is the e-mail that I sent to introduce my thoughts about this catastrophic condition;

The Diabetes Epidemic - Make a Difference
First of all, my congratulations to the creator of this forum. Secondly, my congratulations to Rick Mendosa on his great article (ADA article - 2002). He makes many points that are powerful and unavoidable.

I am a regular writer for the Native American Website Canku Ota located in Minnesota and hosted by Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry. I also write for a wellness/fitness website in Mystic, CT ( ) I am very familiar with the devastating impact that diabetes has had on the entire Native American Community. I am actively working with Jeanette Diaz from the San Diego American Indian Health Center and others across the country to create solutions.

The most immediate impact is moderate exercise. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with the dietary dilemma that Rick Mendosa mentioned have been catastrophic. In the words of Chief Joseph, "I have heard talk and talk and nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not bring back my dead people." This portion of his powerful message applies to today and the diabetes epidemic as well. Words will not bring back those who have died. Words will not comfort the children and loved ones of those who have died. Words will not comfort those who have been devastated by the horrific effects of diabetes to their personal health and wellbeing.

If there is a war to be declared, let it start with you. It is with a clouded conscious that anyone would ignore the plight of those already afflicted and those who as of yet do not even realize that they are a catastrophe waiting to happen. If everyone does something, much will be accomplished. It all starts with education and then is fueled by motivation. A few voices cannot do what needs to be done. The message needs to be loud and clear. It needs to resound like thunder in every community.

Find out how you can get involved and then make a commitment to turn the tide.

So much for good intentions…

I resigned from the forum shortly thereafter as my e-mail inbox was deluged by nonsense from people who only wanted blame others for the problem and they used the forum as source to complain about everything under the sun. As Reverend George Walker Smith of San Diego would say, "If you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem."

There are so many good people working so hard to find solutions and help those already in need. That is the battle. Blaming and complaining is negative and does nothing good.

I have a national anti-obesity/diabetes campaign called "The Wellness Wakeup Challenge" ( - click onto the Wellness Wakeup Challenge icon). If you want to be a part of this dynamic solution, or want to work collaboratively on another solution, e-mail me at and get involved.

Jeanette Diaz of the San Diego American Indian Health Center has just joined my national Advisory Board and is actively engaged in my San Diego campaign. You can become a part of the solution as well. Just do it!

Important Note: This will be a regular feature here at Canku Ota. I have already been to many Native American Wellness events, have presented to various Native American Groups and want everyone who wants to be a part of the solution to get involved. If you have important information, let me know. If there is an upcoming event, let me know so that I can help get the word out. If you know of a great program, let me know. This is a war and the enemy is ruthless. The enemy does not have a face and it does not have a conscious. How we got here has already happened and doesn't matter. How we save the people is all that matters now.

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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, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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