S4E48: What Factors are Causing Poor Health for Indigenous Americans?

Learn how historical treatment and distrust of healthcare systems still continues to impact Native Americans

Indigenous Americans have higher rates of cancer, dementia, and diabetes compared to other US populations. How is this related to their historical experiences? We talk about an understandable distrust of the healthcare system and how it continues to impact tribes.

In this Episode:

  • 00:00 – Our Sponsor: Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone
  • 00:20 – Intro
  • 04:50 – Recipe of the Week: Pawpaw Cookies
  • 08:19 – Exploring Native American Health Disparities
  • 25:16 – Interview: Dr. Jeanna Ford on COVID impacts for tribes
  • 46:05 – Outro

Exploring Indigenous Health Disparities

The history of Indigenous Americans includes battles, massacres, systemic racism, cultural genocide, and broken treaties that systematically stripped them of freedom. This week’s show continues our discussion about healthcare disparities with Indigenous American culture with a focus on Indian Schools and their treatment during COVID.

Pope Francis in his week-long tour of Canada (2022) where he apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in running residential schools — very similar to ones across the United States — that tried to eradicate Native cultures. While the Pope’s apology was welcomed, Indigenous leaders and former students say it’s only the first step toward healing a painful past.

Palliative Care and Hospice Specialist: Dr. Jeanna Ford

We are honored to be joined in this episode by joined by Dr. Jeanna Ford, a Clinical Nurse Specialist from the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of New Mexico Health system in Albuquerque. Dr. Ford is indigenous herself coming from the Southern Cheyenne and Citizen Potawatomi Nations and practices palliative care in New Mexico caring for many tribal patients from various reservations and pueblos.  Today she talks about the lasting impact COVID had on native peoples and for her personally.

Dr. Jeanna Ford, our advisor in Palliative and Hospice Care

Dr. Ford is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the field of palliative care and hospice.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She is double board certified as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Health and as an Advanced Certified Hospice & Palliative Care Nurse. Dr. Ford also holds the titles of a Fellow in Palliative Nursing Care as well as a Fellow of Clinical Nurse Specialists.

She has served as a bedside nurse, advance practice nurse, and clinical leader in the specialties of intensive care, oncology, palliative care, hospice and has been instrumental in the startup of several palliative programs.

Dr. Ford is a national speaker, published author, and focuses her clinical expertise in the area of cultural sensitivity at the end of life with an emphasis on indigenous populations. She currently works as the Clinic Director and APRN for the University of New Mexico Hospital’s outpatient palliative care program as well as serves as faculty for the Center to Advance Palliative Care and for the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

What to Understand about Native American Culture:

  • There is no single Indigenous American culture or language.
  • Indigenous Americans are both individuals and members of a tribal group.
  • Indigenous Americans have been shaped by their culture and environment. Elders in each generation teach the next generation their values, traditions, and beliefs through their own tribal languages, social practices, arts, music, ceremonies, and customs.
  • Kinship and extended family relationships have always been vital in Indigenous American cultures.
  • Indigenous American cultures have always been dynamic and changing.
  • Interactions with Europeans and Americans brought devastating changes to Indigenous American cultures.
  • Native people continue to fight to maintain the integrity and viability of indigenous societies. Indigenous American history is one of cultural preservation, creative adaptation, renewal, and strength.
The Holistic Model allows supportive resources for child care, improved provider-family communication, educating providers about the history and structure of Native American culture, and integration of western and Native American traditional healing. Native American Young Children and their Families in Alameda County



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Recipe of the Week: Pawpaw Cookies

Is it a mango? A papaya? Surprise! It’s a native fruit in the USA (and parts of Canada) called pawpaw. (Source: Scott Bauer, USDA – USDA ARS)

If you live in the Eastern US and get to venture into the woods, you might have seen a special little understory tree that is loaded with unbelievable goodness. Both Native Americans and early settlers enjoyed its small exotic-looking fruit that tastes like a cross between a banana and??? (Our producer thinks it’s a bit like vanilla custard and absolutely amazing!)

If you’re lucky enough to find the fruit, wait until they are soft and squishy to get the right taste. Then you can make this recipe for pawpaw cookies…or just use ripe bananas.

Pawpaw leaves are the only host plant for Zebra swallowtail, Protographium marcellus (Photograph by Donald W. Hall, University of Florida.)
The best time to spot a pawpaw tree is in spring when their maroon flowers are out, along with dogwood and redbud (Source:Regnidei)

Our Sponsors

A tree with the words Digital and Stone

This episode was sponsored by The Tree of Life Memorials and Digital & Stone – a new platform to create digital memorials, environmental legacies and fine art monuments. Share the Stories, preserve the memories, conserve the land, connect the Souls…. because Love never dies. Find out more at https://www.digitalandstone.com/

We are also selected as one of the Top 50 Grief Blogs on the Web!

From Everyone Dies:

Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!

Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon

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We offer a way to memorialize your loved one or treasured pet with a piece of handmade jewelry.  When people comment on it and the wearer can say for example “I received this when my mother died” which opens the conversation about this loss. All our jewelry is made with semi-precious stones and beads, vintage beads, and pearls. You can choose between earrings or bracelets and the color family. Learn More

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