2016 Tribal Health Summit Re-Cap

August 24, 2016 –

2016 Tribal Health Summit Re-Cap

PBP NATION – Members of the four tribes in Kansas and participants from local, regional and national health agencies attended the 2016 Tribal Health Summit over the past two days to explore the issues that impact health in Indian Country and those specific to Northeast Kansas tribal members.

The 2016 Kansas Tribal Health Summit began with the American Legion We-Ta-Se Post #410 bringing in the flags to the vocal renderings of Iowa based drum group Buffalo Eagles Singers.

Theda New Breast, MPH from the Blackfeet Reservation of Montana commenced the program as the morning session key note speaker. She shared her wealth of knowledge on the legacy of historical trauma that continues to haunt the landscape of American Indian Communities and its impacts. New Breast made a significant point during her address that we as Native Peoples need to also look at what is right in our communities and how much Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) has occurred. She stated, “We have the answers we need,” suggesting that Native Communities look within themselves and rely on their traditional ways for healing.

The mid-day brought forth a panel presentation with the PBPN, KTIK and Iowa tribes reporting on their Tribal Community Health Improvement Plans or CHIP. The theme of the panel was describing the work that has been accomplished and what needs still exist. PBPN Assistant General Manager and Community Health and Assessment Team (CHAT) member, William Mitchell presented on behalf of the PBP Nation. Mitchell explained how being able to gather specific information has allowed the area health leaders and programs to focus on three areas which include: Obesity and Diabetes, Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse and Elder Care. Mitchell shared that in a recent community survey 75% of the PBPN Community expressed that they or someone in their household is overweight and 60% would like more information on health and weight management. He also expressed how the PBPN have found great success when tying health programs and initiatives to traditional foods and cultural behaviors.

During the afternoon, Mark Panasiewicz, LLMSW who has spent many years working with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of Michigan, along with several other tribes delivered an outstanding presentation focused on Cultural Values. He kicked off his session by sharing some harrowing statistics facing Native Americans. Natives are two times as likely as the general U.S. population to develop Type II Diabetes, Native children experiencing PTSD/PSD are doing so at the same level as soldiers that have returned from the Iraq war, and as a group Native people are 500% more likely to get tuberculosis. Panasiewicz was forthright in his presentation and although the statistics were staggering he gained the rooms attention.

He then delved into a concept he has termed, “Franken-Culture.” Over the course of time and facing the bombardment of European cultures, many Native American tribes developed a Franken-culture, incorporating the worst parts of other cultures into their own and thus contributing to the historical trauma felt across Indian Country. His positive response to this adverse condition is educating all people, both Native and non-Native, about the conditions faced by Natives and within Native communities seeing a return to the elevated standing of cultural spiritual values. The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community have the “7 Grandfather Teachings” of Courage, Love, Wisdom, Respect, Truth, Humility and Honesty and Panasiewicz has seen how a return to an integration of spiritual values has positively impacted their community along with many other American Indian tribes implementing the same solution. His depth of knowledge, passion and engagement with the audience was palpable.

Afterward breakout sessions were held. They included, Fatherhood is Sacred by Terry Medina, Social Media 101 by Rhonda LeValdo and Tanis Simon, Motherhood is Sacred by Theda New Breast, and Every Baby’s Story Counts: Kansas AI/AN Birth Data by Julia Soap. The day closed with a brief message from Bill Thorne, PBPN Health Center Administrator.

In the evening participants were invited back to a dinner with a presentation given by Theda New Breast, MPH. She shared a short film, “Sinew,” that chronicled the life of her mother, Betty Cooper, who has made strides in the health arena concerning women and substance abuse. Cooper was also the first female to be elected to the Blackfeet Tribal Council.

Day two of the Health Summit opened to a presentation from Michael Bird, MSW, MPH. Bird is a Santo Domingo/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Indian from New Mexico and has served Native American populations for over 30 years in the public health sector. Bird was the first American Indian to serve as president of the American Public Health Association. Bird’s topic was “Mental health and substance use and the impact on family and children’s health.”

The day then went directly into breakout sessions. They included Grandparents Raising Grandchildren by Diane Hall, Veterans Health by Mark Panasiewicz, Home-fit: Adapting housing for the Elderly and Disabled by Mashell Sourjohn and E-cigarettes and Vaping by Dr. Dorothy Rhoades.

In the late afternoon a panel presentation was given on funding opportunities and working with foundations. The last session provided a forum for the Community Health Improvement Plan Teams to gather and discuss how they intend to incorporate what they have learned into future CHIPs.

This annual event was hosted by the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska, Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska. Other sponsors of the event included the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board, AARP of Kansas, Sunflower Foundation, American Heart Association and Health Resources and Services Administration. The Tribal Health Summit was held at the Prairie Band Casino and Resort Convention Center on August 22 and 23, 2016.

More Event Photos:

The Buffalo Eagles Singers rendering a song to bring in the flags.

Matt Waits of the PBPN DPP engaged the crowd mid-day with Chair Exercises.

Fred Thomas, Kickapoo Vice Chairman, shared his thoughts with the crowd.