Native Am. health educators enlighten Nurses
By Samantha Savaglio
Nursing Professor Sandra Underwood's Cultural Diversity in Health Care class welcomed members of the Native American community as guest speakers during the Nov. 8 meeting.
Each guest spoke of their cultural experiences, while students listened attentively and asked important questions. The event provided students with the opportunity to hear from experts and natives of this country who provide health care services in order to increase cultural competence and promote collaboration and social justice.
Members of the non-profit WI Pink Shawl Initiative, Lisa Tiger, or "White Eagle Woman" as she is known in her Muskogee tribe, chair; and Carol Zokan-Cameron, manager and member of the White Earth Ojibwe tribe, led the discussion, along with Charlene and Keetha Smith from the Oneida tribe.
Their organization aims to reduce breast cancer in American Indian communities through education, advocacy, and service. The organization recognizes breast cancer as the leading cause of death among American Indian Women.
Correlating with UW-Parkside Native American Heritage Month theme, "Beyond the Mythologies and Stereotypes: Discovering the Real Stories of Native Americans," the speakers addressed common, yet often misinformed, social facts about their culture and tribes.
They informed students of the history of their collective culture, including the outlawing of their languages, forced assimilation, and the relationship their ancestors had with the American government.
Traditions where recognized as important aspects in their communities. Cultural dances, creation stories, and the reliance on oral tradition, were shared with students.
They also addressed common misconceptions of their culture, such as alcoholism and financial benefits.
Students entering the health care field must be aware of the stereotypes and common issues facing Native American today. Alcoholism, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease are common diseases on reservations. Also, limited health care funding within reservations is of great concern.Through all of these points of discussion, the Native American speakers revealed their responsibility to educate individuals so that social justice may prevail in both our personal lives and in the health care field.