Traveling 'Native Voices' Health Exhibit Opens Today in Anchorage
The traveling exhibit “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness” opens June 9 in Anchorage.
Starting at the Dena’ina Center, the exhibit will debut with a noon luncheon ceremony featuring the Southcentral Foundation, the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the National Congress of American Indians.
The exhibit will remain open for visitors of the Conference of the National Congress of American Indians until June 12, and then it will open to the general public at the Alaska Native Heritage Center from June 13 through mid-September.
Oral history and the wisdom of medicine men are recognized in the traveling exhibit, which made its grand debut at the National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland with a blessing ceremony on October 5, 2011.
Some of the most revered native healers were interviewed for the project, plus tribal educators, curators and others. “One of the major goals is to share from the native community and in their own words and own descriptions what is important to them in terms of native concepts of health, healing and illness,” Fred Wood, a National Library of Medicine curator involved with the project’s development, said. “We’re doing our best to make that in their words, not someone else’s interpretation.”
Topics featured in the exhibition include: Native views of land, food, community, Earth/nature, and spirituality as they relate to Native health; the relationship between traditional healing and Western medicine in Native communities; economic and cultural issues that affect the health of Native communities; efforts by Native communities to improve health conditions; and the role of Native Americans in military service and healing support for returning Native veterans.
Indian Health Service Director, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, a featured speaker at the opening ceremony, said the concept for the exhibition grew out of meetings with Native leaders throughout the nation, “and reflects the Native tradition of oral history… This wonderful exhibit is helping to make Native voices and cultural perspectives seen and heard, and to promote understanding and appreciation of Native cultures.”
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