211839 Wisdom of the Elders

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 12:30 PM

Elaine Abraham, MA , Chairperson of the Board of Commissioner's of the Alaska Native Science Commission, Alaska Native Science Commission, Anchorage, AK
Aunty Betty Jenkins, Kupuna (Elder) , Kupuna, Papa Ola Lokahi, Honolulu, HI
Throughout indigenous communities, Elders are accorded a central role as the primary source of cultural knowledge. It should be understood that the identification of "Elders" as culture-bearers is not simply a matter of chronological age, but a function of the respect accorded to individuals in each community who exemplify the values and lifeways of the local culture and who possess the wisdom and willingness to pass their knowledge on to future generations. Respected Elders serve as the philosophers, professors and visionaries of a cultural community. As one of the primary sources of traditional cultural knowledge, Native Elders bear the responsibility to share and pass on that knowledge in ways that are compatible with traditional teachings and practices. One of the greatest strengths of indigenous communities is the reliance placed on the wisdom of Native Elders. Elders continually remind us that we cannot separate the understanding of natural phenomena from the deeper knowledge that we are all spiritually connected to the earth and earth's creatures. The native worldview defines health as a balance of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of an individual or group being. Elders provide advice in the area of health, medicine and other lifeways. Many elders teach from the medicine wheel or use sacred objects from Mother Earth to convey traditional cultures. Many use Traditional Medicine as complementary to modern Western Medicine. Public health programs are increasingly utilizing the teachings of Elders to improve the health native populations.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify ways Elders help formulate, document and pass on traditional cultural knowledge for future generations. 2. Describe how the use of traditional ways of knowing, teaching, listening, and learning contributes to passing on cultural knowledge to others in the community. 3. Discuss appropriate traditional protocols to be used in the interpretation and utilization of cultural knowledge in public health programs. 4. Discuss the Elders role to assist members of the community to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to assume the role of Elder for future generations. 5. Discuss how Elders assist Native communities in learning the skills needed to improve the health of individuals, family and community.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be a presenter with the Wisdom of the Elders session because I am a Native Alaskan Elder and am recognized as an expert on our culture.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.