How Western Culture Is Destroying Indigenous Groups

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Indigenous people experience disproportionately high rates of chronic and communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. They also often struggle with poor living conditions, inadequate housing, poor nutrition, and exposure to high environmental contaminants, leading to burdens of chronic health deficits.

The 2006 Indigenous World International Working Group on indigenous affairs says: “Indigenous people remain on the margins of society: they are poorer, less educated, die at a younger age, are much more likely to commit suicide, and are generally in worse health than the rest of the population”. This is particularly true for indigenous groups “whose original ways of life, environment, and livelihoods have been destroyed and often replaced with the worst of Western lifestyle – i.e., unemployment, poor housing, alcoholism, and drug use”. Over the last several decades, scholars have been linking these health outcomes to historical traumas that have affected the overall health and wellness of indigenous people and are also seeing a great deal of resiliency embedded in cultural practices and traditions.

In this segment of The Organic View Radio Show, host, June Stoyer will speak to Dr. Ramona E. Beltrán, PhD,  MSW, about these issues and how re-evaluating their relationship between the natural environment and health has brought about the necessary change.

Dr. Beltran, who is a Chicana woman of Yaqui tribal heritage, currently works at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute and the Center for Studies on Health and Risk Behaviors at the University of Washington. She engages in community-based participatory research. She also teaches graduate courses on social justice and historical trauma at the University of Washington. She is working on developing a book on holistic and creative pedagogy for teaching historical trauma and healing. Stay tuned!

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