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'Our Cultures Are Our Source of Health' PSAs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation, Native Diabetes Wellness Program and the Traditional Foods Program’s tribal partners in conjunction with CDC’s Division of Communication Services and the Office of State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support are pleased to announce the availability of 30- and 60- second video public service announcements (PSA) and an 8-minute video entitled Our Cultures Are Our Source of Health. The PSAs highlight the wisdom of cultural knowledge, including harvesting local foods and playing traditional games, in promoting health and preventing diseases like type 2 diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

"We are a proud people. We are working on getting ourselves healthy again…and we will. We've been invisible too long, and this PSA will help to show the world we are still here." - Cathy Abramson, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, CDC/ASTDR Tribal Advisory Committee, Chair National Indian Health Board

Type 2 diabetes is a growing concern around the world. American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. In addition, Native American youth aged 10 to 19 years are developing type 2 diabetes at higher rates than youth in other racial and ethnic groups of this age.

The PSAs were filmed at the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and feature renowned Cherokee actor Wes Studi and representatives from tribal partners from across the United States. “Hopefully we can be the solution to preventing Type 2 diabetes …by eating more traditional foods and playing our traditional games,” said Studi, known for his movie roles including Avatar, The Last of the Mohicans, and Dances With Wolves. Studi gave testimony to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, The Way Out of the Diabetes Crisis in Indian Country, in 2010.

Tribal communities are engaging youth and families to reclaim traditional ways of health by harvesting local, traditional foods and increasing access to traditional games and dancing. Cora Flute, health educator for Cherokee Nation's Traditional Foods Project, told the University of Oklahoma's American Indian Institute that their program will "continue to increase awareness that traditional foods are a part of our past that has sustained us and kept us healthy. Community and family gardens were essentials in access to fresh healthy foods and physical activity was part of staying healthy," she emphasized.

"A lot of us live by numbers…we're statistics, blood sugars, blood pressures, weight, A1Cs. But the number we should focus on is being number one in health. Watching the PSA was very moving. It gives you hope." - Sandra Ortega, Tohono O'odham Nation, CDC/ASTDR Tribal Advisory Committee 

The CDC sponsors the Traditional Foods Program with 17 tribes and tribal organizations, working to reclaim traditional foods and related physical activity in the interest of the health of the people. “Our cultures are the source of health” advised tribal representatives after Congress designated the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and CDC’s prevention efforts in tribal communities. The Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee and the Tribal Advisory Committee viewed the PSAs before they were released.

Learn more about CDC's Native Diabetes Wellness Program.

PSA Footage Includes: Our Cultures Are Our Source of Health, featuring Wes Studi; videos are available in 30-second, 60-second, and 8-minute lengths.