Lake, Minnesota - Centuries ago Native Americans roamed the Great
Plains and river valleys following wild game. Buffalo and venison
were the mainstay of their diet. The people gathered berries, dug
prairie turnips and mouse beans, harvested wild rice, hunted small
game, caught and dried fish, and collected plants for tea and medicine.
The natural world provided everything that the people needed to
survive. The people were active and very fit. Many experts attribute
the origin of diabetes and heart disease among Native Americans
to the reservation era which began in the 1800s as tribal peoples
were confined to small reservations with limited resources. They
were no longer allowed to hunt and gather their foods as they had
done for centuries, instead the government gave them rations commonly
called commodities, More than century ago, these commodities largely
consisted of white flour, sugar, and salt pork. Out of these three
came one of today's delicacies: frybread, which is often mistaken
for a traditional food.
diet, while much more nutritious, is still vastly different in composition
than traditional foods. Instead of venison and buffalo, it's processed
luncheon meat and canned pork. Instead of berries picked ripe off
bushes, it's canned fruit in sugar syrup. Instead of prairie turnips
dug front the hillsides, it's instant mashed potatoes. Instead of
wild rice, it's commercial cereals frosted with sugar. Instead of
herbal tea, it's pop. These changes in diet permanently affected
Native Americans and led to a host of illnesses, among them diabetes
and heart disease.
is particularly destructive in the Native American community, where
it is not uncommon to see diabetes patients with renal failure on
kidney dialysis machines or who have undergone amputations. The
rates of these and other complications, among them blindness and
heart disease, are much higher in Native Americans. In some Indian
communities the rate of diabetes among the elders approaches 100%.
The disease itself and its complications are among the leading causes
of death among Native Americans. Mortality rates for diabetes are
166% higher in the Native American population than in the general
population. Diabetes is four to eight times more prevalent in Native
Americans than in the general population.
provide information and support for diabetes and heart patients
and their families, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is
once again sponsoring the Northern Plains Native American Heart
and Diabetes Conference, July 19 and 20, 2004. The two diseases
share many of the same health issues. Many of the approaches for
identifying who is at risk for diabetes and heart disease are similar:
reviewing family history, obtaining blood pressure and cholesterol
screenings and blood glucose screening. Also, preventive efforts
for both diseases are similar, like lifestyle changes, diet habits,
exercise habits, smoking cessation, limiting alcohol intake, and
regular health care check ups.
participants will be able to choose to attend different break out
sessions including: What's Cooking, Basic Steps to Serving more
Nutritious Meals; Wake Up and Smell the Roses! Exercise; Treating
Tobacco Dependence State-of-the-Art; the Chain of Survival and CPR;
Eye; Teeth, Feet, and Diabetes; Healthy Lifeways for Native People;
and Medicine Talk For further questions or comments, please call
the SMSC Health Department at 952-496-6150, Additional information
and registration forms are also available at www.shakopeedakota.org.