Yeah, so I went to the two-day National Urban Indian Health Conference. It was at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which was pretty nice. Lots of textures going on in their meeting rooms as you can see from the above photos. The servers with embroidered satin vests on the first day were rather amusing too...
And while I did get a complimentary travel mug (with the Seattle Indian Health Board logo stamped on it) I also got something more. There were two tracks for attendees to decide between which workshops they wanted to attend: Public Health Strategies or Planning and Management. I went to all of the workshops in the second category and found myself gaining knowledge that had relevance far beyond the realm of Public Health. And I got to do it surrounded mainly by other Native people, which was really interesting. It didn't have a huge turnout, but the people that were there were passionate about providing health services to the American Indian community.
I did come away with statistics:
- For instance, 2% of the population in Washington State is American Indian, while 4.5% of the prison population is recorded as American Indian. The real figure for the prison population is probably higher based on how prisons record racial statistics.
- Over 60% of the Native American population in the U.S. lives in urban areas.
- Between 1954 and 1961, there were 109 tribes that had their federal recognition status legally terminated.
There's more, but I won't go into all the details. I also found out that technically I am a member of Generation X (born 1964-1980) instead of Generation Y (born 1980-1995), although there is some crossover of course.
What am I taking away from all of this? Well, for one thing, it was a good example of how by taking initiative, I am able to do more things. If I hadn't emailed the Associate Director about the possibility of volunteering, I wouldn't have been able to attend the conference. It also further cemented my belief that the American Indian community is in need of new leaders to further the work that is being done by our elders and better ways of communicating amongst separate Tribes and organizations.