Conference Seeks To Heal The Native American “Health Crisis”

Topics addressed will include dietary and cultural issues that have affected Native American health outcomes.

It’s something tribal leaders and health care officials have known for a long time: Native Americans continue to suffer with some of the highest rates of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases in the country. A conference scheduled for this May hopes to make this problem more widely known—and offer some cures.

“Fertile Ground II: Growing the Seeds for Native American Health” will address several crucial dietary and cultural issues that have made Native American communities susceptible to health problems. Co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the conference will be held May 2-4 at the JW Marriott hotel at the Mall of America. The sponsors expect to attract tribal members, Native youth organization health experts and national philanthropic entities to address what organizers are calling “the health crisis in Indian Country” and improve Native Americans’ health outcomes.

The chief topics speakers and attendees will address include nutrition, access to healthier food and Native America food production. Also on the agenda are youth leadership and intergeneration holistic health in order to encourage cultural changes that can lead to improvement in eating and health habits. Without a dramatic and sustained investment in shifting Indian health trends, conference organizers say, the Native health crisis could become even more critical.

 “Fertile Ground II” continues the Shakopee Mdewakanton community and Heart Association’s 2015 partnership established last year with the goal of improving Native American nutrition and health. For more information on the conference, contact fertileground@heart.org.

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