United Tribes Addresses Type 2 Diabetes

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

Many people still don’t know the shocking statistics showing that American Indian people are four to eight times more likely to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes than non-Native people. From 1991 to 1997 the number of Natives diagnosed with the disease increased 17%, according to Wanda Agnew at United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) in Bismarck, ND. The dangers to people who don’t manage the disease include amputations, kidney failure and blindness. Recognizing the severe negative impact of this disease, UTTC developed a new, three-credit class, “Diabetes and Mother Earth.”

Diabetes and Mother Earth provides students with basic information about the tragic disease and how it impacts the mental and physical health of Indians. The first component of the class is the Awakening the Spirit curriculum called “Strong in Body and Spirit.” Students learn about nutrition, fitness, and the psychosocial effects of the disease.

The second component emphasizes the benefits of gardening both from the fitness and nutritional perspective. The lessons are specifically designed to reconnect students to the earth. Discussions focus on how food was historically celebrated and gathered by various tribes. Students also study modern day plants and gardening as they design their own plot.

The third component studies hunting and fishing, while stressing exercise, healthful food selection, and preparation. There are lessons specific to the history, cooking techniques, and nutritional benefits of buffalo. Central to this component is the history of how Indian people were and still can be connected to the land and its animal inhabitants.

Diabetes and Mother Earth is just one class in the Nutrition and Foodservice Associate of Applied Science degree offered at United Tribes. The degree provides theory and hands-on experience in healthful food preparation, food science, food safety, wellness, and community nutrition. The tracks focus on either wellness/nutrition or culinary arts/cooking. Students are prepared for the national Dietary Managers certification exam and the ServSafe food safety exam. After graduation, students may transfer into a four-year nutrition program or find employment with the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), school lunch, diabetes/wellness programs, hospitals, elderly food programs, casino kitchens, or private restaurants.

For more information about the diabetes class or the nutrition vocation visit the website <www.united-tribes.tec.nd.us>.

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