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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Luger: Welcome to 'Well For Culture'; Reclaiming Ownership of Our Inherent Athletic Abilities
by Chelsey Luger for Indian Country Today Media Network
Welcome to Well For Culture.

In the Indigenous world, there is a beautiful and powerful movement taking place. It is a movement toward improved health, community wellness, spiritual health and mental strength. We are witnessing the development of revolutionary Indigenized fitness concepts, and a return to ancestral foods. It is an exciting time.

Acknowledging that our communities have, in many ways, been largely unwell for a century or so, the youth from all nations are now doing something about it. This is potentially a watershed moment for the peoples of the tribes of the Americas. This is perhaps that moment the people will look back on and say, "that is when our communities healed."

We see it in organizations like the Native Wellness Institute. We wear it on our sleeves via Nike N7. We post about it on Facebook pages like Healthy Active Natives. We hashtag it #indigefit on Instagram. Little by little, but at an increasingly rapid pace, our people are taking pride in and reclaiming ownership of our inherent athletic abilities and knack for harvesting, hunting and preparing natural, wholesome foods.

Families, individuals, networks and nations are coming together to support one another in living well.

Western civilization influenced us to build false yet alarmingly sturdy walls between formerly fluid components of healthy living. This led to the degradation of our healthy Indigenous minds. Our people are now tearing those walls down. Once again, we are drawing strength from our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional selves, fully understanding and remaining aware that ultimately, these facets of life are inseparable. Soon, we will forget about those walls. Our children will never know they existed.

Without realizing it, I joined this wellness movement several years ago when I became dedicated to fitness. Through these interests in Indigenous wellness, I connected with two people who have since become close friends: Martin Sensmeier and Thosh Collins. We came up with the name "Well For Culture" because we believe it describes the essence of the movement: being well and being about the culture are one in the same. Well For Culture.

While we are working on several projects under the Well For Culture theme, the idea to write this column came about. You can now expect to see this column every Friday. Each week, I will feature new ideas, people, places, or events related to Indigenous health, fitness, athletics, foods, and everything else related to health and wellness.

With this introduction to my column, I'd like to offer an invitation. If you know about somebody or have heard about something going on related to Indigenous health and wellness, and you think I should write about it, I'd love to hear your ideas. Please feel free to e-mail or tweet at me. Join us in promoting an image of positive, strong, healthy Native people. Because that is who we really are.

Chelsey Luger is Anishinaabe and Lakota from North Dakota. She hopes to be a strong link in a long chain of ancestors and descendants by spreading ideas for health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter @CPLuger. Ideas for articles? Email her at

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