224483 Decolonize Tobacco - Breathe Tradition, Not Addiction

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shannon Fleg, MS , Native Health Initiative, Diné Nation, Albuquerque, NM
American Indian and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) in the United States, regardless of recognition status, deal with the health consequences of commercial tobacco use (e.g. cigarettes, chew tobacco) and the loss of knowledge regarding traditional tobacco (e.g. that which is used in ceremonial, sacred, and medicinal ways). Concurrently, AI/AN are faced with the increasing loss of their Indigenous languages. Through the Indigenous language, youth stay connected to their culture and describe their people, origin stories, tobacco stories, knowledge, and ceremonies. Knowing one's Indigenous language enables youth to understand traditional tobacco, both of which act as a protective factor against commercial tobacco product use. Over the last five years, we have incorporated traditional tobacco as a visual learning tool in health education efforts aimed at reducing the use of commercial tobacco. Diverse traditional tobaccos and their uses are described, including Dzil Nat'oh (Navajo for mountain smoke) and Asema (Anishaabe for tobacco). Using the theme “Decolonize Tobacco- Breathe Tradition,Not Addiction” to encourage AI/AN youth to use tobacco only in traditional ways. As a result of our initial work, we feel that decolonizing the concept of tobacco amongst AI/AN, clarifies the traditional uses and roles of tobacco in tribal and urban communities. This work elucidates the importance of maintaining, and in some communities, reviving Indigenous languages as a health issue; when these languages are lost, much of the concepts around something complex like traditional tobacco are lost, and along with it, the cultural protective factors to hinder commercial tobacco use.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe a cultural approach to decrease tobacco prevention and cessation among American Indian/Alaskan Natives. 2)Name several types of traditional plants known as tobacco.

Keywords: Tobacco Control, American Indians

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to give this presentation on this material because I have professional experience in fields of health promotion, health program planning, and working with topics related to substance abuse prevention/cessation.
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.