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The National Library of Medicine’s Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness exhibition continued its nationwide tour by traveling from the Great Plains of North Dakota to the mountains of Alaska.
The grand opening of the exhibition coincided with the first day of the National Congress of American Indians, which was held at the stunning Dena’ina center in downtown Anchorage.
At the opening session of the Congress, the Alaska Native Southcentral Foundation recognized the positive contributions NLM director Dr. Donald Lindberg has made to Native people by way of the exhibition.
[Katherine Gottlieb:]
The National Library of Medicine were very careful to observe our cultural beliefs and respect our traditional ways as they accomplished this work across the nation. As native people we believe in sharing what we know and passing the knowledge down through the generations and this exhibition is consistent with those ideals, and the educational value is immense and widespread.
And on behalf of the National Congress of American Indians and all the people of Alaska it is my pleasure to bestow upon Dr. Lindberg a token of our appreciation and a thank for you his long term commitment and efforts towards this achievement. Please applaud with me and recognize Dr. Lindberg.
[Brian Cladoosby:]
I think it’s very important for natives to hear from other natives about successes and how you can live a nice healthy lifestyle and bringing an awareness from listening to these real-life stories.
The Native Voices exhibition is visiting multiple locations during its year-long Alaskan tour. At the close of the National Congress of American Indians annual meeting, the exhibition moved to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, where Alaska Native youth showcase the many facets of their culture.
[Alaska Native Interpretive Guide:]
They would use this right here. It's a storytelling knife. And as you can see it's made of a lower jawbone of a caribou.
Many Alaska native people contributed stories to the Native Voices exhibition, including village elders, healers, and physicians.
[Haliehana Stepetin:]
I really enjoy watching my people talk about these problems because I grew up where we didn’t talk about the bad stuff. The elders didn’t want to dwell on the negativity but we need to face it in order to heal. So I really appreciate this exhibit.
The next stop on the Alaskan tour is the Southcentral Foundation’s Primary Care center. The Primary care center blends western medical practices with traditional healing in a culturally appropriate setting that includes art and a medicinal garden full of indigenous plantings.
In 2011, Southcentral Foundation was awarded the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for the success of its "Nuka System of Care".
Nuka is an Alaska Native word used for strong, giant structures and living things. It is the name given to the health care system created, managed, and owned by Alaska Native people to achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.
The Native Voices exhibition will also visit the Southcentral Foundation’s Benteh Nuutah Valley Native Primary Care Center in Wasilla, and the WWAMI Regional Medical Education Program at the University of Alaska.
At every stop on the tour, communities are encouraged to augment the Native Voices exhibition by showcasing their own art and artifacts, or hosting it during powwows or other community celebrations.
[Loren Andersen:]
We are very fortunate to be able to have the exhibit and let our voices be heard. I still remember when I was telling the story that I didn't tell people I was native. And that if I could pass for something other than native then I had made it. And I felt ashamed of that. So when I hear the stories on the exhibit I know I'm not alone and that we're not the only people in a struggle...Alaska...Hawai'i...lower 48...all indigenous peoples of the world.
Native Voices will travel to sites in Hawai'i and Oklahoma, and then to Indian reservations, Native health and cultural centers, and regional medical libraries nationwide.
North Dakota