UB Offers First-ever Regional Wellness Conference on Better Health Care for Indigenous People

Release Date: August 31, 2010 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo will host this area's first conference designed to find solutions to the far-reaching and elusive health care problems for Native American and indigenous people Sept. 8 to 10 in the Crowne Plaza Fallsview in Niagara Falls., Ontario.

In collaboration with UB's Native American Center for Wellness Research in the School of Social Work, the conference is the first of its kind to be held in the Haudenosaunee territory, for Native Americans residing and working in the Western New York and Southern Ontario area.

Besides bringing a lineup of some of North America's most prominent experts on the health care issues of Native Americans and indigenous people, the conference makes a strong commitment to move beyond discussing the problems so prevalent in Native American/First Nations, and toward finding solutions.

"Native American people endure some of the highest rate of diabetes, alcoholism, cancer and suicide in the U.S.," says David A. Patterson, director of the Native American Center for Wellness Research, assistant professor in the UB School of Social Work who is a Cherokee descendant and known as Silver Wolf (Adelv Unegv Waya).

"The principle investigators of the conference believe it is important that Native American/First Nations researchers, health-care providers and community members throughout the Haudenosaunee territory gather and collaborate toward a shared goal of improving the overall health and wellness of indigenous peoples," he says.

Besides Patterson, the principle investigators are Dawn Martin-Hill of McMaster University in Canada and Theresa McCarthy of UB's American Studies department.

The three-day conference will be divided into four categories:

 Knowledge-sharing: Speakers will discuss the latest health disparity solution-based research, and what academics, educators and health care providers need to know about this part of the health-care puzzle.

 Mentorship: How can those working for better heath care form alliances and partnerships across academic, governmental and medical disciplines? The conference will also focus on finding financial and training support for these collaborations.

 Health and wellness: Native and indigenous communities presently observe valuable practices, habits and health techniques. What are these customs and habits, and how can others within the culture be trained and encouraged to observe these healthy ways, whether they are traditional or more reflective of American science?

 Seven Generations: Each generation is responsible to ensure the survival for the seventh generation," says Patterson. The conference will aim to develop a forum for the continuation of exchanging ideas, ethics and human protection during research, as well as human rights.

Patterson and the other principle organizers are especially proud of the speakers, all internationally recognized for their expertise in health care issues for indigenous people. Maria Brave Heart, an expert on historical Native trauma and currently associate professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, will speak on healing from historical trauma and grief. Malcolm King, director of the Canadian Institute of Health Research's Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health and internationally recognized as an expert in respiratory health, will speak on promoting good health and well-being for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada—as well as and for Indigenous peoples abroad—through research and knowledge exchange.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse was born on the Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota, and is a board member of the Society of Peace of Prayer. He will draw from his extensive portfolio on international peace and spirituality and speak on the spiritual crisis of the earth's peoples. Amber Skye is a public health doctoral student with a specialization in health and behavioral sciences at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She will be presenting, "Aboriginal Midwifery: A Model for Change," and will discuss indigenous knowledge and epistemologies of health and well-being as essential practices to improving the health status of Aboriginal communities

"We all have a responsibility to heal ourselves along with the communities in which we choose to live," Patterson says. "This conference is a great opportunity for people to gather and work toward addressing health and wellness issues throughout indigenous communities."

This conference is supported in part with funding from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Patterson at (716) 645-1252 or visit the conference web site for the full schedule and details of the three-day event.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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