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Four Kansas tribes cooperate in wellness conference

MAYETTA, Kan. ? The four tribes of Kansas announced that they will sponsor a Native American Wellness Conference next spring. Focus of the symposium will attempt to incorporate traditional and culturally relevant methods as well as modern technology in treatment and prevention of disease.

By educating participants about topics like substance abuse, domestic violence, well-child development, adoption related issues, the cycle of dysfunction, diabetes, obesity and other health concerns sensitive to Native Americans, the tribes hope to work on prevention and help communities better utilize current health services funding.

The conference tentatively is set for mid-to late-May at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence. The tribes plan to offer the seminar at no or very low cost to participants to attract as many people as possible from public and private sectors.

Planning was spurred as host tribes recognized the inadequacy of current Indian Health Service funding. By assisting tribes in better use of health dollars and prevention programs, tribes may find themselves able to provide better services to more tribal members, planners said.

The program will hone in on what is being termed "internalized oppression."

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"I guess what we talked about at the last meeting is that everything from alcoholism to stress to everything kind of goes into oppression," said Heather Daugherty, administrative assistant to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Alcohol and Drug Program.

"That is kind of what we are going to focus on. We haven't really decided whether this year we are going to focus on key points or try to break up into smaller groups and different categories that people can attend. We haven't really gotten all that into perspective yet."

Daugherty said that although the workshop is in the planning stages, both facilitators and participants would leave with information to help with both healing and prevention.

"It will offer information on health, addiction and all different facets ? we have discussed about everything you can think of. There are tons more that we didn't list. We just haven't really pinpointed if we want to go for certain areas or not yet .. ."

Since the conference is open not only to health care providers, but to the general public, host tribes said information available will be easy to understand and use.

"To learn more about how they can help themselves if they already have problems or take preventative measures so they don't ? obesity leads to diabetes that leads to depression," Daughtery said.