SEATTLE, WA — In an emotionally powerful spiritual blessing ceremony led by Annette Squetimkin-Anquoe, PhD, the Native Voices traveling exhibition opened at the University of Washington Health Sciences Library last spring.
A member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, Dr. Squetimkin-Anquoe shared a brief history of each element of her Native blessing and captivated the audience with its heartfelt delivery.
Ralph Forquera, MPH, Executive Director of the Seattle Indian Health Board and Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute, told opening ceremony attendees how he became a health care administrator as well as an advocate of better health for urban Native Americans. Although Forquera is a member of the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians of the Acjachemen Nation, he shared that he was raised in an urban environment rather than on a reservation. During his talk, Forquera described how he eagerly learned about his Native American heritage as an adult.
Forquera explained that deeply engrained Native beliefs and customs find their way into everyday Native American health behaviors and attitudes. He added the development of a deep understanding and appreciation for heritage-health interconnectivity is essential for any healthcare provider working with Native Americans.
Forquera, who was a consultant in the development of the Native Voices exhibition and is interviewed extensively within it, said he strived to ensure that the health and cultural experiences of urban Native Americans were well-represented.
Forquera’s talk also provided a rare insider’s view into the overlapping worlds of health, government, culture, and community.
More recently, the University of Washington Health Sciences Library hosted Terry Maresca, MD, who discussed the contemporary role of American Indian traditional medicine in healthcare and medical education in the Pacific Northwest. A member of the Mohawk Nation and graduate of Vassar College, Dr. Maresca is a family medicine practitioner in the Pacific Northwest and sees patients at the Seattle Indian Health Board. She has blended her knowledge and passion for plant and traditional medicine with family medicine throughout her career.
Dr. Maresca provided a mostly non-Native American audience with insights about the challenges of incorporating traditional practices into medical practice. She noted the integration is challenging partially because it was once discouraged and sometimes forbidden.
The Native Voices traveling exhibition remains on display on the lower level of the University of Washington Health Sciences Library through summer 2015.