Over the past few years, the wellness wave has swept across Native country, and there’s no sign of it receding anytime soon. In an effort to tackle far-reaching health disparities that have been plaguing our people for some time, communities far and wide are taking it upon themselves to invest in wellness.
From tribal food sovereignty to athletics to instilling ideas for holistic health in Native youth, the wellness bug is taking shape in many different forms. Whether the outreach is through official tribal wellness programs, grassroots social media campaigns or clinics and healthcare services, folks are finally feeling empowered enough to access the level of health and wellness that was once the norm for all tribal nations.
Some of these efforts are brand new, some have been around for awhile, but all are making tremendous impact, inspiring Native people everywhere to find a renewed sense of strength in mind, body and spirit.
Brought to you by the Coeur D’Alene Tribe’s Qhest Life wellness program, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Powwow Sweat is a new workout program that gets people moving through pow wow dance moves. You can watch and participate in Powwow Sweat sessions from your home, office, or anywhere really—video classes are available through DVD purchase, and for free on YouTube. Anybody who’s ever danced jingle, fancy, grass or any of the other dynamic categories featured on these videos is well aware of how exhausting and fun it can be. So even if you don’t have regalia or have time to hit the pow wow trail, you can get your fitness and culture on with these amazing workout videos.
NB3 Fit Week
Last year, the Notah Begay III Foundation made ICMN’s health hot list with its NB3 Fit Day—this year, it is turning the event into an entire week, and we expect it to be bigger than ever. From November 5-11, NB3 will unite thousands of Native youth and wellness programs across the country in a week of fitness and active movement. Known as one of the most dynamic youth sports and leadership organizations in the country, NB3 sets goals with no limits, delivering tangible results and truly inspiring Native youth to get active.
Wellness Warrior Camp
Based in Gresham, Oregon and servicing tribes all around the world, the Native Wellness Institute has been going strong in the wellness game for more than 30 years. Each year, youth from many nations look forward to their annual Wellness Warrior camp, where they eat a healthy diet of ancestral foods (like salmon, bison, and wild rice), play traditional games (like double ball), and work on holistic wellness through talking circles, art projects, equine therapy, cultural exchange night, hiking, and more. This year, with support from the Nike N7 fund, the camp was held on the beautiful Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde pow wow grounds, with one day of fun at Nike World Headquarters. More than 100 Native youth were able to learn about the “wellness warrior” mentality, and expressed their excitement about taking this knowledge home to do wellness work in their own communities.
Well For Culture
Well For Culture is a grassroots indigenous wellness initiative focused on learning and sharing innovative wellness concepts like ancestral foods, earth gym and mental-spiritual connectedness that photographer Thosh Collins and I help run. For tons of free video tutorials, recipes and more, visit Well For Culture on Facebook and Instagram, and don’t forget to check out the website, which can be a valuable tool for your wellness efforts: WellForCulture.com.
Wellness Warrior App
This year at their national conference, the United National Indian Tribal Youth organization unveiled a new Wellness Warrior mobile app (no connection to NWI’s “wellness warrior” camp), encouraging youth to live a balanced life and offering tools to track progress. You can download the app for free today on Apple, Android, and more.
Potawot Health Village
In the rural northern California town of Arcata is one of the most holistically driven, innovative healthcare facilities in the country. Servicing many tribes in the area, the Potawot Health Village, operated by United Indian Health Services, is equipped with not only all the regular stuff you’d find at a clinic (doctors trained in Western medicine, etc.), but also with an on-site community garden, and staff who are trained to help you tackle health concerns like diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes. The local Native community is very involved with the community garden, and it has been a source of inspiration for all who visit.
We R Native
We R Native is a comprehensive health resource “for Native youth, by Native youth,” promoting content and stories to promote holistic health and positive growth. This year, they started a text messaging service (which anybody can sign up for)—an innovative way to remind youth to get active and get healthy. Check out their website at WeRNative.org. Covering topics like sexual health, mental health, identity, physical wellness, and more, it is a phenomenal resource.