St. Regis Mohawk Diabetes Patients Stay Active, Anticipate New Diabetes Clinic


Groundbreaking for the more than $6 million Diabetes Center for Excellence on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation is June 18, reported WCAX News and the Watertown Daily Times.

“It's pure exciting; it's like the feeling you get when you know you're buying a car and you want to get into it right away but it's in the factory,” Janine Rourke, registered nurse and program director of the tribe's Let’s Get Healthy/Healthy Heart programs, told the Watertown Daily Times. “We know it's coming; we're excited about it but we wish it was here yesterday.”

Now the tribe's approximately 500 members enrolled in the Let's Get Healthy program, which works to raise diabetes awareness and help reservation residents struggling with the disease, can seek treatment and work out in the new facility, reported USA Today. Currently, the tribe's diabetes education and fitness classes are limited by space and spread out across the reservation, stated the Times.

USA Today reports on Cecilia Cook, 81, who currently keeps active at the St. Regis Mohawk Services clinic, and is one of the tribe's "success stories for healthy aging," said Rourke, explaining that older people are more prone to develop the disease. All patients, especially older ones, should exercise to control type 2 diabetes, as well as modify their diet. More than 80 percent of Rourke's patients are 45 or older, and a third are more than 65 years old.

The new diabetes center will prospectively include a much-needed indoor track, as soon as money comes in. "There are no sidewalks and no track at the high school, so it is hard to find places to walk," Rourke, who lead fundraising efforts for the center, told USA Today.

The tribe received a $600,000 federal grant to fund construction of the 15,000-square-foot diabetes treatment center, which was scaled back from 20,000-square feet due to a shortage in funding. The organization anticipates receiving a few other grants; it applied for one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Ernest J. Thompson, director of planning and infrastructure for the tribe, reported the Times. So far, the tribe has put forward most of the money; the Akwesasne Housing Authority pledged $1 million, with an additional $185,000 coming from grass-roots fundraising efforts such as golf tournaments and a formal dinner and dance.

Rourke believes the center will aid early diagnosis, before the damage starts. She estimates that at least 13 percent of the Akwesasne population is diagnosed with the disease, reported the Times. "We think that if you count those who are undiagnosed, it's more likely 20 percent of the population is affected in our community," she told USA Today.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



dbender's picture
Submitted by dbender on
THAT is just wonderful. The fight against diabetes is the fight against sugar and gluten addiction. Its a fight worth fighting and it should be at the top of every Indians list. You see sugar is kind of a trick that the evil and greedy monsters of this world used on the poeple to enslave them in a state of phobia and poor health. Some could say that sugar kind of works like magic with the imaginary power of love. The reason I say love is because sugar is used in the very baked goods that we give to our precious loved ones; unknowingly destroying their body and making them insulin resistant. Since europeans have been eating this way since the discovery of "sweets" I could only guess that their bodies are far more adapted than the common natives'. Furthermore, upon the Columbus invasion, he discovered 3 things: Indians, Land, and Sugar Cane. Sugar cane that would soon progress as the main cash crop and reason for western expansion. You see, Columbus was an entrepaneur drug runner. Tobbacco, Sugar, and Rum were all products of the Carib Natives crops. It didnt take long for these products and people to become exploited in ways that are still very apperent today. Look at the people of Haiti. They are mostly black because the invaders used these islands as industrial plants and imported slaves to produce their "magic" or as I would call it now, "drugs". Sugar is a drug! This nation of natives; must awaken to what I consider chemical warfare. Against not only natives but on the lower-middle class families of this nation. Just because our livers haven't failed yet does not mean that we are alomst ALL dieabetic.