September 5th, 2013 by cgarrett
Tears were shed, vows were made and stories shared as dozens of tribal leaders and villagers gathered in Anchorage last week for the 13th Alaska Tribal Leaders Summit.
This particular gathering focused on suicide. And over two days, there was much discussion on the causes, and possible solutions, to the loss of life happening statewide, particularly amongst Alaska Natives.
Alaska has the highest suicide rate per capita in the country, and Alaska Native men are most likely to take their own lives. Between the years 2000 and 2009 the state had nearly 1,400 suicides, according to the state›s Suicide Prevention Council. Suicide is often a consequence of depression and hopelessness brought on by loss, alcohol, violence, abuse, neglect and boredom. Or all of the above in some cases. And finding a solution is even more daunting, perhaps, than realizing the cause.
But one message surfaced over and over at the summit.
“A little bit of love goes a long way,” said Ed Johnstone, a fishing rights activist from the Quinault Nation in Washington State and one of several keynote speakers at the summit.
And that love and nurturing needs to start at a young age, added Bethel Elder Daniel Bill. “From a traditional point of view, every one of us would have been taught the urge to live and succeed at whatever we do,” said Bill, who has been addressing the issue of suicide through his work as the youth services director for the Association of Village Council Presidents for decades.
Building a good foundation through communication at a young age is key, he added.
“The younger, the better,” he said. “That means getting involved even before school starts talking to them about alcohol … And
learning to celebrate life.”
Helping young children and adolescents understand what it is to be an Alaska Native was a common thread in the discussion about causes and prevention of suicide. Teaching young people how to hunt and fish and gather — explaining their history, language, heritage and the land they live on — are all important, positive aspects of life that parents, grandparents and community members can use to help engage the younger generation. Alaska Dispatch
August 1st, 2013 by cgarrett
September 23rd to 25th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
This is the first international conference to address the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of FASD. Plenary sessions will promote discussion and reflection on promising and innovative approaches for preventing FASD, such as policies and programs to address alcohol use and the social determinants of health. Sessions will identify barriers to FASD prevention and possible solutions for overcoming these obstacles. The conference will serve as an international knowledge exchange and networking forum for those interested in FASD prevention, bringing together key experts from around the globe.
For more information and to register go to http://www.fasdedmonton2013.ca/FASD-Prevention/Default.aspx
April 5th, 2013 by cgarrett
Alaska has long been plagued by a high incidence of violence against women.The Alaska Victimization Survey is modeled upon the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Surveillance System (NISVSS) developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice and the U.S. Department of Defense. The NISVSS survey, started in 2009, is designed to generate accurate lifetime and 12-month incidence and prevalence estimates on intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking victimization. Major findings showed that out of every 100 adult women who reside in Alaska: 48 experienced intimate partner violence; 37 experienced sexual violence; 59 experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both. Additionally, they commit suicide at a rate twice that of the national average. For more information: 2010 Alaska Victimization Survey
March 14th, 2013 by cgarrett
In the 1940s and 1950s, medical ships cruised the waters of southwest Alaska, trying to end an epidemic of tuberculosis that infected as many of 90 percent of the region’s population. Doctors now face shortages of tuberculosis detection and treatment medicines even as the aftershocks of that 70-year-old epidemic infect Alaskans anew. “What we’re having to do due to the national shortage is to ask people to put on hold some of the routine screening of at-risk people,” said Dr. Michael Cooper, Alaska’s deputy state epidemiologist. Alaska has the highest tuberculosis rates in the country, partly due to the mid-20th century epidemic, Cooper explained. Anchorage Daily News
March 13th, 2013 by cgarrett
The United States Executive Office of the President’s National Science and Technology Council has released a five-year Arctic Research Plan that outlines key areas of study the Federal government will undertake to better understand and predict environmental changes in the Arctic. The Plan was developed by a team of experts representing 14 federal agencies, based on input from collaborators including the Alaska Governor’s Office, indigenous Arctic communities, local organizations, and universities. Seven research areas are highlighted in the Plan as both important to the development of national policies and well-poised to benefit from interagency collaboration, including among them: regional climate models, human health studies, and adaptation tools for communities. The Report
February 14th, 2013 by cgarrett
The Polar Research Board, of the National Research Council (part of National Academy of Sciences) announced a study activity designed to provide guidance on future research questions in the Arctic over the next 10-20 years, identifying the key scientific questions that are emerging in different realms of Arctic science and exploring both disciplinary realms (e.g., marine, terrestrial, atmosphere, cryosphere, social sciences, and health) and cross cutting realms (e.g., integrated systems science and sustainability science). Based on the emerging research questions, the study will also help identify research infrastructure needs (e.g., observation networks, computing and data management, ship requirements, shore facilities, etc.) and collaboration opportunities. Attention will be given to assessing needs where there may be a mismatch between rates of change and the pace of scientific research. Although it is understood that there is no one answer, the committee is asked to explore how agency decision makers might achieve balance in their research portfolios and associated investments (e.g., what are some of the challenges of trying to do both problem-driven research and curiosity-driven research?). The goal is to guide future directions in U.S. Arctic research so that research is targeted on critical scientific and societal questions and conducted as effectively as possible.
The study will include a community workshop to be held in Alaska in late spring of 2013, and the Committee’s report is expected to be released by spring 2014. Further information about the project, including the study scope and the provisional committee slate, and public comments, can be submitted here.
January 24th, 2013 by cgarrett
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium have launched their second survey in an effort to assess Alaskans’ wants, needs and vision for the future of health and health care in Alaska. The initial survey ran between Sept. 17 and Oct. 22, 2012. More than 1,500 Alaskans responded to the survey, listing such health priorities as alcohol use and abuse; the cost of health care; and diet, exercise and obesity as their principal health concerns.
The second survey is designed to shorten the current list of 71 health indicators to the top 25 Alaskans feel are most important. The Healthy Alaskans 2020 initiative will track the state’s progress in meeting these top health priorities between now and 2020. Anchorage Daily News
January 24th, 2013 by cgarrett
A new study conducted by the Alaska Division of Public Health shows a decline in violent deaths in Alaska during the past five years, an indication that some of Alaska’s most persistent and serious problems could be improving. The data comes from the Alaska Violent Death Reporting System (AKVDRS), a federally funded program established in 2004. Alaska is one of 18 states receiving federal funding for the program, which has collected data for two five-year periods, 2004-2008 and 2007-2011. Alaska DispatchAlaska Violent Death Reporting System 2003 – 2008
January 24th, 2013 by cgarrett
A feature length documentary film about Alaska Native journeys through heartbreak and hope. In a landscape as dramatic as its stories, Alaska Native people face staggering suicide rates, yet remain determined to heal & thrive!
In We Breathe Again, a movie in production about Alaska Native suicide-prevention work, a man talks about his suicide attempt. “I wanted to hunt. I wanted to put food aside, but I couldn’t do it without a vehicle and gas money.” He began drinking and finally turned a gun on himself. The last thing he remembers saying to his family before the gun went off was, “By god, I love you all.” The people in the film were courageous, willing to talk about moments of anguish as well as triumph, so that others can learn from their experiences, says director and cinematographer Marsh Chamberlain. “Listening to them has been such a privilege. We Breathe Again is about serious issues, but it’s also uplifting-a healing journey. Whatever our characters have been through, they’re all living healthy lives now, so that hasn’t been hard to do.” Indian Country Today
December 14th, 2012 by cgarrett
Nunavut came up trumps at the first-annual Arctic Inspiration Prize at the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Vancouver, B.C. Dec. 13. The prize is awarded to four research projects that “address pressing issues facing Canada’s Arctic and its Peoples.” All four get a selected chunk of a $1-million prize given by the S. and A. Inspiration Foundation.
The winning Nunavut projects include:
- The Arctic Food Network — $360,000: The Arctic Food Network won its money by creating a scheme to build regional food cabins along a network of “food highways” or snowmobile trails across the territory.
- The Nunavut Literacy Council — $300,000: The Nunavut Literacy Council won its $300,000 with its three-year research project about embedding literacy skills into traditional programs.
- Inuit elders writing a book on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit — $240,000: Ten elders from across Nunavut, along with a subset of many other elders, are writing a book about traditional knowledge and culture, What Inuit Have Always Known to be True.