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Old 07-27-2005, 02:08 PM   #1
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Gaming tribes promote health awareness on reservations

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FROM: INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY NEWSPAPER

_http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096411246_
(http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096411246)

Gaming tribes promote health awareness on reservations

(javascript:PrintWindow();) Posted: July 19, 2005 by: _Staff Reports_
(http://www.indiancountry.com/author.cfm?id=263) / Indian Country Today
WASHINGTON - The National Indian Gaming Association is raising awareness
about gaming tribes' efforts to promote health and wellness among Indian
people across the country. Tribes are building new health and wellness centers
and have incorporated preventative care such as diabetes prevention, heart
health programs and weight management into their programs.

According to the IHS, the Native population in the United States has an
infant mortality rate that is 22 percent higher than the national rate, a life
expectancy more than five years lower than the national average, a rate of
death from alcoholism that is 627 percent greater than the national rate, an
incidence of diabetes that is 249 percent greater than the national rate and a
suicide death rate of 72 percent higher than the national rate.

''In the past, Native peoples never had weight problems - this is a

relatively recent phenomenon largely due to an introduced diet that has included too
much sugar, fats and starches,'' said NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr.
''Today, with the nationwide epidemic of obesity and, in general, poor physical
fitness of our population at large, tribes are especially concerned about keeping
their families and communities healthy.''

According to the NIGA report, tribes now spend 17 percent of their net
gaming revenue on health care. Here are a few examples of how gaming tribes are
helping to improve the physical condition of their tribal members and providing
medical treatment to their Native and non-Native surrounding communities.

With the help of gaming revenues, many tribes have been able to open
state-of-the-art facilities, which help keep tribal members in good physical
condition while responding to many medical conditions that affect Native peoples,
including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, in north-central Minnesota, encourages
physical fitness through the following programs: the ''Take Charge Challenge,'' an
employee wellness program; an annual ''Walking Program'' for tribal members
and employees; the ''Marine Marathon'' in Washington, D.C., which includes a
conditioning program to prepare for the marathon; a diabetes clinic referral
for tribal members who need assistance with an exercise program; and ''Walk
around Mille Lacs Lake,'' available to anyone who wants to participate.

In support of sports, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana sponsored the
2005 First American Multi-Sport Series, which included the Paragon Casino
Duathlon and the Indian Creek Triathlon. The Paragon Duathlon is a 5K run/20K bike
ride/5K run and the Indian Creed Triathlon is a 1.5K swim/40K bike ride/10K
run. Proceeds from both races will support the Best Buddies of Louisiana
program's efforts to enrich the lives of the state's citizens with intellectual
disabilities.

The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation in Arizona has recently embarked on a
community-wide program of physical fitness. Tribal members and tribal employees
are given physicals and outfitted with pedometers, which they can clip on and
wear during physical exercise. The tribe has begun organizing a number of
physical activities, including a recent run during the nation's Sovereignty Day
celebration in early May.

''Clearly, there is much to be done to increase health and wellness among
our tribal peoples,'' said Stevens. ''With the help of Indian gaming, Native
communities are making great strides in these areas.

''However, despite all of our gains in recent years, the statistics continue
to tell us that we have a long way to go to get our people healthy and
living long and disease-free lives,'' said Stevens.
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