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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Finding solutions to MCH disparities in native communities: Animal clans guide the way

Geradine Simkins, RN, CNM, MSN, Maternal & Child Health Consultant, Birthways Midwifery, Inc., Michigan Inter-Tribal Council, 275 Cemetery Rd, Maple City, MI 49664, 231-228-5857, gera@speedconnect.com and Elizabeth Knurek, MPH, Health Services Division, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc, 2956 Ashmun Street, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783-9286.

Statement of Problem: The overall infant mortality rate in the United States has declined steadily since the 1930s. However, since the 1960s it has remained consistently higher than the rate in many industrialized countries, with the U.S. currently ranking 27th internationally. The unfavorable standing is rooted in race and class-based disparities. American Indian, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian infants fare worse than most other minority populations.

Methods: Healthy Start projects that serve indigenous people convened a summit in 2003 to explore cultural diversity among distinct native communities with focused attention on issues that impact maternal and child health. Several culture-based methods were used to gather qualitative data including “Talking Circles” and “Talkstory.” At the summit’s conclusion, focus groups—divided into six animal clans—were used to categorize and synthesize data into themes. Animal totems were used to metaphorically guide the process.

Findings: Representatives from six Healthy Start projects participated in the summit; discussions addressed perinatal systems, behavioral risk factors, cultural issues, and conditions of everyday life. Participants agreed that while contemporary perinatal systems have failed to adequately address the educational, referral, treatment, and support needs of significant numbers of native families, community-based initiatives are succeeding. The Animal Clans identified themes within the major topic areas; transcription analysis established one theme per Clan: 1) Turtle: Honoring Women, 2) Otter: Joy of Belonging, 3) Deer: Providing a Voice, 4) Rabbit: Facing the Giants, 5) Bear: Healing the Wrongs, 6) Wolf: Finding the Integrated Path.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Native and Indigenous Populations, Maternal and Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: Consultant for Michigan Inter-Tribal Council Healthy Start Project, funded by HRSA/ MCHB

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Native Women Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA