By: Rhonda Levaldo
Diabetes needs to be taken seriously in Indian Country, and it is about to get a wake-up call from the Kickapoo Tribal Chairman, Steve Cadue. To compel North American Tribal nations to address the impact of diabetes and diabetes complications, Cadue, along with 1964 Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, Miss Indian Nations Shanoa Pinkham, and President of the Association of American Indian Physicians Donna Galbreath, M.D., will host a panel on the topic at the upcoming National Indian Gaming Association convention in San Diego.
Cadue said that the April 4th Circle of Nations: Prevention and Beat Diabetes session will begin coordinating Tribal leaders to, get them to make diabetes a priority on Tribal agendas. Cadue said many Tribes are not addressing Tribal member health issues and its time to make this call to action to fellow leaders.
Cadue plans to show how his Tribe, the Kickapoo of Kansas, is addressing diabetes. He says the key to their success has been staying in contact and following through with each person on their regiments.
The Kickapoo provide walks, runs, and different programs to their youth, which are in accordance with their diabetes grant. Cadue wants to ensure that other Tribal leaders are aware of what they can do and how they can defeat diabetes.
As a Native person who knows all too well the impact of diabetes personally, I am extremely happy to hear a Tribal leader doing this type of advocacy for our Tribal people. I have heard too many of our people use the excuse that it is going to happen to them anyway. I was one of those people. I thought there was nothing I could do to stop from getting diabetes- from becoming a statistic. Now I know differently.
I am asking that any person who wants to join me in refusing to be a diabetes statistic, please commit to start being healthy. Start by doing one thing. Dont do it all at once. Start out slowly and gradually increase your healthy food intake or decrease your intake of unhealthy foods. Pick one thing, stick to it, and grow your lifestyle.
Rhonda LeValdo is working on a second phase of research looking at how Diabetes Stories on Native Americans are Framed, with her research partner Dr. Teresa Lamsam.