The Arizona Health Sciences Library Hosts a Native Voices Conference, Traveling Exhibition

TUCSON, AZ–The Arizona Health Sciences Library (AHSL) at the University of Arizona welcomed the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Director Emeritus as part of a day-long conference in mid-October.

During a luncheon speech at AHSL’s Native Voices in the Southwest conference, Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg MD discussed his journeys to diverse Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian sites from 2007-2014 to help prepare the Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness exhibition.

Dr. Lindberg noted the Native Voices exhibition provides a platform for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians to explain the interconnections among health, illness, and culture within their lives. Dr. Lindberg added that the exhibition, which opened as a traveling exhibition at the AHSL on August 25, gives Native Peoples a venue to describe in their own words their healing traditions and legacy of care.

Group photo

L-R: Esther Sternberg MD, Alberta Ariviso PhD, Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, Mary Lindberg

Prior to Dr. Lindberg’s speech, the University of Arizona’s (UA) College of Medicine and UA’s libraries welcomed a crowd of mostly local residents. Alberta Ariviso, PhD provided a Navajo blessing to start the conference.

During a morning session, three panelists discussed their extensive experiences in delivering health care to Native Americans. The speakers were: Johnson Dennison, a Navajo Traditional Medicine Man practitioner; Miguel Flores, a Pascua Yaqui/Tohono O’odham behavioral health practitioner; and Michael Tutt, MD, a Western-trained Navajo physician practicing in Indian country.

The panel, Native American Culture in Patient-Centered Care, was moderated by Jennie Joe, PhD, professor emerita, Family and Community Medicine, who is the retired director of the Native American Research and Training Center.

A lively discussion followed the panel–and reinforced some of the disease prevention and healing issues raised by the Native Voices traveling exhibition’s video interviewees.

Dr. Lindberg’s keynote speech was followed by a screening of the film Carlos Montezuma: Changing is Not Vanishing, which was presented by the Arizona State Museum and the Native Eyes Showcase.

The non-fiction film discusses the life of Carlos Montezuma, MD, who, as the film explains, was taken from his Yavapai family as a young boy. Eventually, Montezuma  became one of the first Native Americans to earn a medical degree, graduating from Northwestern University’s Chicago Medical College in 1889. Returning to work as a reservation doctor, Dr. Montezuma began lobbying for Native American rights and citizenship. In 1906, when the Yavapai faced removal from their reservation, Dr. Montezuma successfully fought for and finally secured the tribe’s land and water rights.

UA’s Department of Family and Community Medicine established the Carlos Montezuma Endowment in 2011. Bernadine Burnette, a descendant of Carlos Montezuma, provided an introduction and led the discussion after the screening.

Dr. Alberta Ariviso provided a second blessing to close the conference’s activities.

The Native Voices traveling exhibition will be at the AHSL through Sunday, December 6.

By Jeanette Ryan

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