Nov 16, 2012, 12:48 PM, Posted by Mike Painter
I had the recent good fortune to attend an Institute of Medicine Roundtable workshop on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities called Leveraging Culture to Address Health Inequalities: Examples from Native Communities. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the November 14, 2012 Seattle event. The meeting was a gathering of American Indian, Alaska and Hawaiian Native health and health care leaders, all talking about health and culture. They told stories of resilient, strong, vibrant, conquered yet not vanquished people. Their tales were wondrous and sad—troubling, provocative, sometimes angry, often humorous.
One might think the IOM was doing a good, almost charitable, thing by shining some precious attention on these people. How nice for experts to listen politely to those stories of past cultures struggling against waves of current change. Well, it was a good thing—but not necessarily just for the natives. There was immense, quiet wisdom and power there—for everybody.