Prior Lake, Minnesota-"The
Creator gave you a way of life. He wants you to be alive, he wants
you to be well. A certain way of life was given to us by the Creator.
It's up to us to find a way to get that back," said speaker
Barb Turenne from Sioux Valley, Manitoba, Canada. Barb joined her
longtime companion, Glenn Wasicuna, as the keynote speakers for
the second day of the Northern Plains Native American Heart and
Diabetes Conference at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. More than 400 participants
gathered for this year's event. "We have to have balance in
our lives," she said.
Glenn talked about
when they were growing up. He described how life used to be with
gardens and wood stoves both of which required intense physical
labor. Foods were healthy. People were healthy. That changed when
in the 1940s government agents gave each household 100 pounds of
flour. "That was one of the most damaging things that happened
to our community. From that time on, our community changed forever.
Then, in the Sixties, one of the community members came home from
the war and brought home a black and white TV set." Then, a
TV appeared in the community center. "When those two things
happened, people stopped visiting together, talking together. The
fabric of our family was torn again." He explained that people
were no longer physically active and their food choices were unhealthy.
Instead of gardening and cutting wood every day and eating natural
and wild foods, the people were eating white flour which was new
to their diet and sitting down watching TV.
getting yourself well. You can't sit there and bemoan your situation.
We've tried the wasicu way, the white way, we have to work towards
getting ourselves back to our traditional ways," Barb continued.
Glenn and Barb, both who are employed in the Shakopee Mdewakanton
Sioux Education Department, addressed the crowd first in Dakota
and then in their second language, English. All the speakers at
the conference seemed to be in agreement that individuals are in
charge of their own health. They advised patients to increase their
daily activity, watch what they eat, restore their spirits, educate
themselves, and get appropriate medical attention.
were available on smoking cessation, cooking nutritious meals, exercise,
preventing complications, CPR, prescription medication, and healthy
lifeways. A walk/run drew more than 75 people in the hot, humid
morning. Others chose indoor exercise. Other speakers talked about
obesity and the process of change.
got my second chance at life, I need to start helping other people
so they don't have to go through what I did," said SMSC Community
member Amy Crooks-Larca who spoke at the conference about her own
experience with the diseases. Amy will undergo a living donor kidney
transplant in the next few months.
an epidemic which has swept the United States," said Dr. J.
Michael Gonzales-Campey, medical director and CEO of the Minnesota
Center for Obesity, Metabolism, and Endocrinology. "The secret
to losing and maintaining that weight loss is to burn more calories
than you consume. Good health comes from physical activity and sound
nutrition. Get moving, find something you enjoy. Limit portion size.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. View every day as an opportunity
to be healthier. A 10% of current weight loss within a twelve-month
period is ideal."
"When we become
closer to our ceremonies and our natural way of life, we feed our
spirit and our soul," said Janice Bad Moccasin, SMSC Assistant
Tribal Administrator, who led a breakout session called Healthy
Lifeways. "We are all interrelated. Make your connection with
being related to the universe by giving thanks, offering a prayer,
listening with an open heart. Recognize the sacredness of who you
are. Exercise is medicine. Your body is a gift. Take care of it.
We need to make a spiritual commitment."
a failure! You're already changing. In psychology we understand
that behavior change moves in predictable patterns, so we expect
people to make progress and then often to return to an old behavior.
So don't be discouraged if you have tried to change before, but
haven't been able to maintain it, just remember what helped and
forget what didn't help. Then come up with a new plan and try again,"
said Licensed Psychologist Joseph Nelson. "Recyling is normal."