Archive for August 16th, 2011

Several groups in northwestern Montana are coming together to help create an indigenous theater presence to their area and will present several Native-themed shows to audiences this summer.

As reported on the Humanities Roundtable by Zan Deery, the production of “Moon Over Mission Dam” and the continuation of a Native youth theater program are both part of an effect to build an indigenous theater program on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

    (The productions are) part of Npustin (an indigenous arts organization), Salish Kootenai College’s HeartLines, and the Arlee CDC’s collaborative vision to bring theater arts workshops for young adults and performances of plays by Native playwrights to the Flathead Reservation

“Moon Over Mission Dam” was written by Salish poet Vic Charlo and Spokane poet Zan Agzigian.

    The September performances of “Moon Over Mission Dam” mark the first production of what will be a series of plays by native playwrights and initiates a strategic plan to create an Indigenous Summer Theater at the Arlee Pow Wow Grounds.

    Co-written by Charlo and Agzigian in 1993, the play is set on the fictitious Buffalo Hat Reservation in Montana in the year 1972 and centers around water issues. Although it is more than 15 years old, the play is well timed for its relevance to discussions about irrigation, ownership of dam property, and water rights issues on the Flathead Indian Reservation and on other reservations in the U.S. today. Most importantly, it gives voice to the Native American perspective on these issues.

The Native youth theater campers presented their set of “Core Stories” in July.

Jenna Cederberg

If someone suffers from diabetes, which causes depression, which makes them turn to alcohol, the problems should be treated together, with a more traditional holistic healing approach.

That’s what one doctor suggested at the Association of American Indian Physicians’ six-day conference in Portland last week, the Oregonian reported.

    “We’ve gotten away from the art of medicine,” said Dr. Donald Warne, member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and director of the Office of Native American Health in Sioux Falls, S.D. “We are focused on the science of medicine.”

Statistics that point to the continued disparity at which Natives suffer from disease and high death rates.

    Death rate among Native Americans from diabetes is three times as high as the general population’s; six times as high from alcohol; more than two times as high from accidents; and 60 percent higher from suicide. Health providers could help reduce those disparities by adopting some traditional healing practices balance physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, Warne said.

    . . .

    A family physician, Warne said he’s seen hundreds of Native Americans suffering at once from diabetes, depression and alcoholism. Diabetes fuels depression, which patients try to self-medicate with alcohol, he said. Yet, they are treated by a doctor for diabetes, a therapist for depression and a behavioral counselor for alcohol abuse, he said, and those three providers typically don’t talk to one another.

Watch the Oregonian video on the conference here.

Jenna Cederberg