Native Voices Exhibition Stops in NLM’s Backyard: University of Maryland, Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD – Two lectures about Native American health recently supplemented the Native Voices traveling exhibition at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, Baltimore.

“We have found that whenever we arrange additional programming it enhances the experience of the exhibit and people really appreciate it,” said M.J. Tooey, the associate vice president for academic affairs at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

In the first talk, Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, who recently retired after 31 years as director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), discussed his concept for the original Native Voices exhibition, which was housed at NLM from 2011-2015. Dr. Lindberg explained how he and NLM staff interviewed more than 100 Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian tribal leaders, health care professionals, Native Healers, and others about health, illness, and the process of healing. Dr. Lindberg explained the experiences captured within the interviews became the core of original exhibition as well as the current Native Voices traveling exhibition.

Dr. Lindberg also noted NLM’s efforts to gather artifacts, such as Native Hawaiian art about health and healing, that were displayed in the original Native Voices exhibition that will close at NLM in July 2015. He additionally mentioned the building of a special healing totem pole and its 2011 journey from the Pacific Northwest to the Medicinal Herb Garden in front of NLM.

Dr. John Reed stands in front of the Native Voices traveling exhibition.

John Reed, MD visits NLM’s Native Voices traveling exhibition at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, Baltimore.

In the second talk, John Reed, MD, Director of Inpatient Services, Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, discussed the importance of learning from Native Americans and other cultures to help returning veterans. Reed, who holds a divinity degree from Harvard University, noted veterans need integrated care for their mind, body, and spirit. To provide a context, Reed noted only 20 percent of cancer patients discuss life and death issues with health care providers as part of their disease treatment.

Reed added health care providers need to address broader community responsibilities to better assist returning veterans with PTSD, as well as help former and current soldiers who experience significant war-related violence and death. Reed said he finds inspiration from how Plains Indians and other Native American tribes helped warriors return to routine activities. Reed added other cultures (even going back to ancient Greece) provided returning soldiers with some continuity of care and concern.

Reed rhetorically asked, “What happens to National Guardsman, who are living everyday lives, go fight somewhere, and then return to their homes?”

About 1,000 visitors attended the Native Voices traveling exhibition during its spring stay in Baltimore, said Aphrodite Bodycomb, the associate director for administration and operations at the Health Sciences and Human Services Library. Bodycomb mentioned she was especially interested in the remarks of the World War II code talkers, who are among the interviewees accessible within the Native Voices traveling exhibition.

By Judy Folkenberg

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