Steve Russell

On March 25, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case brought by a for-profit corporation, Hobby Lobby, claiming it (the corporation) would be denied religious freedom if forced to offer Obamacare compliant health insurance policies that cover birth control to some 13,000 employees....

4/5/14
Julianne Jennings

American Indian women have long been honored with the name “life giver” for their gift of motherhood to the tribes. In addition, most Native American women were masters at making beautiful blankets, baskets, pottery and jewelry. They gathered materials to build homes for their families and understood the curative properties of wild plants to heal the sick. American Indian men knew women were the source of life and acknowledged that their wisdom and strength was essential for group survival. Thus in modern times, we are no different from our European counterparts going to great lengths and personal expense to make sure our children have the best clothes, schools, lessons, coaches, and more.

We begin economizing the moment our are born in order to save money and set it aside for the best of college educations. We surrender our own personal wants, preferences and even needs so that they will have everything necessary for a successful future. In fact, most of us would literally give our own lives for our children because no sacrifice is too great; surrendering all for the sake of something or someone. It is the act of giving up, offering up or letting go. Sacrificing our preferences should never compromise biblically, theologically or doctrinally but often requires us to make adjustments in order to accommodate generationally and systematically.

Sacrifice is a way of teaching the next generation to think unselfishly and possibly recognize common ground in terms of deference and preference. Deference is a learned and practiced submission based on conviction, or politely giving in to another, or courteous respect whereas, preference is based on feeling and tradition. 

The idea that women, Native or otherwise, have to make those choices every moment of every day while men don’t have those same commitments or time constraints. Mostly, men don’t end up splitting their mental lives between the two worlds of home life and work life. They can close the door on each to go to the other. Women, on the other hand, have to juggle both together and make decisions for children, family members, close friends, (and themselves) that effect the outcomes for everyone.

Recently, I had to make the decision (preference) to leave my job and forget about pursuing my doctorate studies to save my seventeen year old daughter, who suffers from drug induced psychosis. How the effects of her drug and alcohol addiction (failing school, cutting, paranoia, attempting suicide), on the emotional life of the mother, grandmother, and aunt can drag down even the strongest of women, and bring about surprising decisions for the woman as well as the child who is struggling with addictive behaviors. Yet, there are opportunities that arise from spending time in the emotional world of the addictive child: learning what brought about the addictions or acting-out behaviors and working through those to the closer bond between mother and child...

3/24/14
Notah Begay III

As I sit here listening to my 6-year-old daughter read, I wonder what the future holds for her and the next generation of Navajo children. Childhood obesity and diabetes continue to plague the Navajo Nation and American Indian communities across the United States. These negative trends among Navajo youth raise important questions for tribal communities. How will our Navajo Nation government and we, as Navajo people, work together to combat these negative trends?

Let’s not kid ourselves. Defeating diabetes and obesity will not be easy. It will take commitment, creativity, and reliance on our traditional values to solve these problems. More importantly, these issues require all of us to take a stand as we work to reclaim control of our diets, health, wellness and community well-being. But we need a partner in the Navajo Nation government. 

The passing of the Healthy Diné Nation Act by the Navajo Nation Council was a big step forward. The battle to prevent our kids from developing Type 2 diabetes cannot be won without the support of our Tribal Leaders. This legislation has a very simple, two part approach: first, increase access to and affordability of fresh and healthy foods sold on the reservation by removing the five percent Navajo sales tax on fresh fruits, vegetables, and water sold on the reservation and, second, implement a small two percent additional sales tax on “junk food” sold on the reservation, with revenues generated from the tax going back into Navajo communities for health and wellness programs. The two parts work together for the good of the people.

I am inspired by the grass roots movement among the Navajo people that led to this important legislation, and the Navajo Council Members who stood up to be a part of this movement. I stand with them today.

But a week after the Healthy Diné Nation Act passed, I was disappointed and discouraged to learn that this important legislation was vetoed. The veto sends a dangerous message that the futures of our children are for sale to outside corporate interests that have no concern for the health of the Navajo people. If we fail to maintain our sovereign identity, our children will be left to pay the consequences. This issue isn’t only about a tax but also about how the citizens of the Navajo Nation want to shape the future for their children.

I realize that new Navajo tax laws will not be the sole solution to an epidemic that results in the rate of diabetes being 2.3 times higher within the Navajo Nation than elsewhere in the U.S. or that 50% of American Indian children are projected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime based on current childhood obesity rates. But the Healthy Diné Nation Act represents an idea that brings together the resources and leadership of Navajo government and combines them with the best interests of the Navajo people. The reality facing our communities is that if government and family leaders continue to ignore the childhood obesity and diabetes issue it will ensure that some of our children will not outlive their parents...

3/22/14
Mike Taylor & Amy Moore

He looks like he could be 60, but Baron is probably about 75 years old. No one knows exactly when he was born and neither does he. “We need you again for our drum group, we need to practice for the powwow,” said Baron....

3/12/14
Teresa Abrahamson-Richards

We see evidence of sugar’s devastating health effects every day. Take a close look. Over there it’s rotting a child’s teeth, over there it’s taking a diabetic’s foot, and, hey, over there it’s costing the clinic thousands of dollars to treat preventable conditions. What can we do about it?...

11/17/13
Dustin Twin

The voice on the other end had an ominous sense of urgency. He opened with, “We're running. I can't take this shit anymore.” As per our last conversation I knew that he was talking about running for council, but “this shit” could mean any number of things these days....

9/6/13
Rick Kearns
7/18/13
The racist discrimination against indigenous Mexican farmworkers in the United States is literally making them sick, and their plight is clearly misunderstood by immigration policy...
Bill John Baker

Every Cherokee Nation citizen deserves a long and healthy life. I believe that means access to quality health care, and as Principal Chief, I made a commitment to our people to address this critical issue....

4/16/13
Mary Annette Pember
4/16/13
A little over a year ago, I noticed an overweight woman about my age riding through the grocery store on a motorized shopping cart...
Hayley B. Elkins

Early in my marriage, my husband was a vegetarian who didn’t eat eggs. It’s not that he had any moral quandaries against them, he just didn’t like them....

4/1/13

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