Episode 1109 | Reconnecting With a Healthy Lifestyle: Health & Wellness: The Indigenous Way


>>ACCORDING TO THE CENTERS
FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, NATIVE AMERICANS
AND ALASKA NATIVES ARE MORE LIKELY TO REPORT THAT THEIR
HEALTH IS FAIR OR POOR COMPARED TO OTHER GROUPS,
PARTICULARLY CAUCASIANS. BUT SOME LEADERS AND TRIBES
IN THE SOUTHWEST ARE TURNING THINGS AROUND BY COMBINING
THE BEST PRACTICES AND INFORMATION FROM WESTERN
MEDICINE WITH CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AND TRADITIONS. THIS WEEK, WE BEGIN OUR
SERIES, ‘RECONNECTING WITH A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE.’ IN THE COMING MONTHS, WE’LL
EXPLORE GRASSROOTS HEALTH AND WELLNESS INITIATIVES IN
CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA, AND RIGHT HERE IN NEW MEXICO. BUT TONIGHT WE START IN LOS
ANGELES COUNTY, WHICH COVERS MORE THAN 4000 SQUARE MILES
AND HAS ABOUT 10 MILLION RESIDENTS. LESS THAN 2% OF THE
POPULATION IS NATIVE AMERICAN ACCORDING TO CENSUS
STATISTICS. THAT CAN MAKE IT DIFFICULT
FOR PEOPLE TO ACCESS CULTURALLY RELEVANT
SERVICES. WE VISIT ONE PROGRAM THAT’S
BRINGING NATIVE PEOPLE TOGETHER IN THIS LARGE URBAN
COMMUNITY.>>WE’RE NOT INTEGRATING OUR
CULTURE INTO THE WESTERN WAYS, WE’RE INTEGRATING THE
WESTERN WAYS INTO OUR CULTURE. YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS JUST
AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH, AS YOUR
SOCIAL HEALTH, AS YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH.>>DR. CARRIE JOHNSON CAME
TO LOS ANGELES 18 YEARS AGO FROM CANADA. THE CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST IS
WAHPETON DAKOTA, AND NOW TREATS PEOPLE AT THE UNITED
AMERICAN INDIAN INVOLVEMENT, WHICH CURRENTLY SERVES
NEARLY 3000 PEOPLE IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY.>>WHEN WE LOOK AT PROBLEMS
WITH OUR COMMUNITY, HIGH RATES OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE,
HIGH RATES OF SUICIDE, MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, OUR
CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE, THOSE STATISTICS HAVE
REMAINED THE SAME, OR IN SOME INSTANCES HAVE BECOME,
YOU KNOW, EVEN MORE SEVERE.>>UAII STARTED IN THE
1970s TO HELP NATIVE AMERICANS LIVING ON
SKID-ROW. THEY NOW PROVIDE COUNSELING
AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENTS. BUT DR. JOHNSON SAID THAT
SHE AND HER STAFF SAW THAT TREATMENT ALONE WASN’T
WORKING FOR MANY OF THEIR CLIENTS. THEY ASKED WHAT PEOPLE
WANTED, AND BASED ON THAT FEEDBACK THEY STARTED
OFFERING MORE CULTURAL ACTIVITIES LIKE DRUMMING,
DANCING, AND BEADING CLASSES, AND STARTED TO SEE
BETTER HEALTH OUTCOMES.>>WE KNOW THAT, FOR
EXAMPLE, CHILD ABUSE OCCURS MOST OFTEN WHEN FAMILIES ARE
ISOLATED, THERE’S A HIGHER INSTANCE OF CHILD ABUSE. SO, FOR EXAMPLE, DURING THE
HOLIDAYS, WE STARTED DOING SO MANY ACTIVITIES. IT USED TO BE A TIME OF THE
YEAR WHEN WE WOULD SEE SO MANY CHILD ABUSE REPORTS. ONCE WE STARTED DOING THIS
AND REALLY A LOT IN THE LAST THREE YEARS, WE HAVEN’T HAD
ONE DURING THE HOLIDAYS. OUR WHOLE NATIVE PEOPLES
HAVE BEEN TRAUMATIZED, AND WE’RE STILL DEALING WITH
WHAT HAPPENED. WE KNOW THAT FROM WHAT
HAPPENED, THERE WAS THAT LOSS OF CONNECTION AND THAT
LOSS OF PRIDE, THAT LOSS OF CULTURAL IDENTITY, AND SO BY
JUST RESTORING THE CULTURE AND THE CULTURAL IDENTITY
AND THE PRIDE, THAT’S WHAT WE’RE SEEING. THAT’S WHERE THE HEALING IS
TAKING PLACE. .
¶¶ (DRUMMING/CHANTING) ¶¶ .
>>YOU GO TO WORK JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE, MAKE A LIVING,
THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE, ESPECIALLY HERE IN
CALIFORNIA IT’S REALLY FAST. SO SOMETIMES I NEED THAT
BREAK TO BE ABLE TO GO BACK TO MY CULTURE.>>BEING HEALTHY TO ME IS
BEING ABLE TO TEACH THE YOUNGER ONES. IF YOU LIVE HEALTHY, YOU
TEACH THEM TO BE HEALTHY, AND IT CONTINUES ON TO THE
NEXT GENERATION. THEY TEACH THEIR KIDS. WE ALL NEED TO BE
GRANDPARENTS TO ALL THE KIDS.>>THIS ISN’T JUST A NIGHTLY
ACTIVITY FOR US. I WORK A FULL-TIME JOB.>>I’M STILL WEARING MY
SAFETY GLASSES FROM WORK. I HAVEN’T HAD TIME TO SHAVE. BUT THAT’S PART OF WHAT OUR
MESSAGE TO OUR KIDS IS, THAT YOU WORK AND YOU STAY
VIGILANT, BUT YOU DON’T FORGET YOUR CULTURE, YOU
DON’T FORGET WHERE YOU COME FROM. I’LL BE SINGING, I’LL BE
HELPING WITH THE EXHIBITIONS, DANCING. FOR A LITTLE OVER SEVEN
YEARS NOW, I’VE ABSTAINED FROM ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE
ABUSE, AND THIS BUILDING IS ACTUALLY WHERE I STARTED
BACK MY ADVENTURE AGAIN.>>TSO YANEZ IS NAVAJO AND
WAS RAISED IN L.A. HE WAS INVOLVED IN GANGS AND
WENT THROUGH TREATMENT ONCE BEFORE, BUT RELAPSED. IT WAS WHEN HE STARTED
DRUMMING AND DANCING THAT HE WAS ABLE TO ACHIEVE AND
MAINTAIN HIS SOBRIETY. HE NOW MENTORS OTHER YOUNG
PEOPLE WHO ARE DEALING WITH SIMILAR STRUGGLES.>>I GREW UP WITH CEREMONY,
I GREW UP WITH TEACHINGS, I GREW UP WITH SONGS, I GREW
UP WITH THE DANCE, AND SO COMING BACK TO IT GAVE ME A
REASON TO TIE IT ALL BACK TOGETHER. BECAUSE IN RECOVERY PROGRAMS
LIKE NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS AND ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, THOSE
12 STEPS, THEY ARE BASIC FOUNDATIONAL TEACHINGS THAT
COME FROM OUR ORIGINAL WAY OF LIFE. SO IT’S ALL CONNECTED FOR
ME. IT ALL COMES BACK TO THAT
STEPPING STONE.>>BUT MEASURING HOW WELL
THE INTEGRATION OF CULTURAL ACTIVITIES AND BEHAVIORAL
HEALTH SERVICES ARE WORKING TOGETHER CAN BE CHALLENGING,
SAYS DR. CARRIE JOHNSON.>>WE KNOW THAT ALL THESE
THINGS ARE WHAT MAKES US HEALTHY, BUT WE NEED TO
PROVE IT.>>UAII IS CURRENTLY
UNDERGOING A RESEARCH STUDY TO MEASURE THE EFFECTIVENESS
OF USING CULTURAL ACTIVITIES TO SUPPORT SUBSTANCE ABUSE
AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH TREATMENT. BEFORE AND AFTER ASSESSMENTS
WILL MEASURE IF THERE ARE LASTING CHANGES IN PEOPLE’S
HEALTH. THE RESEARCH STUDY WILL ALSO
UTILIZE A COMMUNITY RESEARCH MODEL AND INVOLVE A
COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD TO BUILD TRUST AND INVOLVE
NATIVE AMERICANS IN THE ENTIRE RESEARCH PROCESS,
MEASURING WHAT MATTERS TO THE PEOPLE THEY’RE SERVING
WHICH GOES BEYOND PHYSICAL HEALTH.>>WE’RE GOING TO BE
EVALUATING NOW EFFECTIVE IT IS IN DECREASING MENTAL
HEALTH PROBLEMS, DECREASING SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEMS,
IMPROVING SOCIAL CONNECTIONS, AND IMPROVING
CULTURAL IDENTITY.>>FOR NEW MEXICO InFOCUS,
I’M ANTONIA GONZALES IN LOS ANGELES.

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