Native American Health

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In Humboldt County, Hupa Woman Teaches Healthy Cooking via YouTube

Meagan Baldy demonstrates a stir-fry of local salmon, kale and mushrooms. (screen grab from YouTube)

Meagan Baldy demonstrates a stir-fry of local salmon, kale and mushrooms.The channel is aimed at improving the health of Native Americans.  (screen grab from YouTube)

By Samantha Clark

Tucked away in far northern California, in Humboldt County, is the small community of Hoopa. With just 3,000 people, it’s the big city on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.

Like other Native American groups, the Hupa suffer from high rates of obesity and diabetes. That’s where Meagan Baldy comes in. She runs the Hoopa Community Garden and sought to educate her fellow Hupa people about eating local, traditional foods. But trying to change people’s habits is never easy.

She started by offering a “farm box” – a box of free produce, whatever is in season. But people failed even to pick up their boxes. Baldy discovered that people didn’t know how to prepare most produce.

Serving the vegetables to her own family was a battle at first, so it must have been for others as well, Baldy reasoned. So, she snuck in greens and tried cooking them in creative ways. Continue reading

Native American Woman Changes Young Lives Through Traditional Dancing

Juliet Small, 19, teaches Native American dance to girls at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland. (Zaidee Stavely/KQED)

Juliet Small, 19, teaches Native American dance to girls at the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland. (Zaidee Stavely/KQED)

Editor’s Note: Many Native Americans are reconnecting with the traditions of their ancestors—to eat healthier foods and get more exercise with traditional dance and drumming. At the Intertribal Friendship House in Oakland, there’s a weekly dinner with traditional recipes, followed by a community dance. Before dinner, 19-year-old Juliet Small teaches Native American dancing to young girls. As part of our ongoing series of first-person health profiles called “What’s Your Story?” we hear from Small who is Apache, Navajo, Cherokee, and Azteca. She has been dancing since she was three-years-old. Small discusses how dancing has brought healing to her family and community. Reporter: Zaidee Stavely

By Juliet Small

Growing up in the Oakland area, it sometimes seems there’s not a lot of outlets for people to get away from the negative aspects of life. There are always so many things you can get caught up with. You know, hanging out with the wrong people, doing the wrong things with those people. But because I’ve always had dancing, that’s always kept me on the right path, to where I want to dance for myself, to keep up with my culture, and to share my culture with everybody else. And when I dance, I’m extremely happy. No negative thoughts.  I feel light. I feel relieved of stress. Continue reading

Native American Woman Finds Strength in Spiritual Ceremony

Editor’s Note: In a world where random violence seems to be a constant threat, it can feel like we’re on our own, unprotected and unsupported. As part of our occasional series “What’s Your Story,” Sheila Jumping Bull of Oakland describes how she found strength and solace from a spiritual ceremony called “Wiping of the Tears.”

By Sheila Jumping Bull

Shiela Jumping-Bull records her commentary in a KQED studio as part of the "What's Your Story?" series.

Shiela Jumping-Bull records her commentary in a KQED studio as part of the “What’s Your Story?” series. (Shuka Kalantari/KQED)

Two years ago I was shot in my leg while waiting for the bus. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. After being shot, I was told that I would never walk again, or that if I did, I’d have to walk with a cane. Being that I had to stay in bed for three months straight, not being able to walk or hold my own baby or do anything for myself, I became depressed. I didn’t want anything to do with life. Mentally, I was not here. I couldn’t believe what was going on. I was angry, confused and hurt.

We have a medicine man that comes to our Native community, once a month. He does ceremonies, sweat lodges, talking circles. He did a ceremony called Wiping of the Tears. I didn’t want to participate in this ceremony, but a lot of people from the Native American community told me that I should because it would help me.

As I prayed and as these songs were being sung, I could feel my spirit coming back.
A Wiping of the Tears ceremony is where you call upon your ancestors and those who have passed before you to come and help heal you — and take away your pain. As the medicine man sings these songs, these sacred songs, these ceremonial songs, you pray, and you ask for their guidance, their strength, their love, and their help. Continue reading