Honoring Voices during Native American Heritage Month

Did you know that at nearly 16 percent, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups?

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the traditions and histories of Native Americans, and to acknowledge their important contributions. This month is also the right time to raise awareness about the serious occurrence of diabetes in Native American communities and recognize those that are making great efforts to stop this deadly disease.

For the past six years, the American Diabetes Association has presented leading Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) grantees with John Pipe Voices for Change Awards during Native American Heritage Month. These programs are recognized for their effective diabetes treatment and prevention services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities in the categories of Advocacy, Outcomes and Innovation. They are named in memory of long-time diabetes supporter John Pipe of Wolf Point, Mont., a dedicated diabetes advocate and member of the Association’s Native American Initiatives Subcommittee.

Congrats to our 2014 award recipients!


Yellowhawk Tribal Health CenterYellowhawk Tribal Health Center
Pendleton, Ore.

The Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center is a rural clinic serving 3,000 tribal members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The Center’s Diabetes Education Program is part of a team of educators that help patients build skills to prevent diabetes complications and stay healthy.

The program includes group classes, a support group and individual education appointments with a team of educators, including a diabetes program coordinator/registered nurse/technical eye photographer, registered dietician/certified diabetes educator, fitness trainer, life coach and program assistant.

“This award demonstrates how our program is making a difference in the war on diabetes in the Native American community,” said Teresa Jones, Diabetes Program Coordinator. “Many Natives believe that diabetes is their destiny. This is a public statement that it is not and that you can make a difference in your health.”



Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Diabetes Program Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Diabetes Program
Anchorage, Alaska

The ANTHC Diabetes Program offers a range of traditional and nontraditional diabetes care, services and support for the Alaska Native People and American Indians living in Alaska. The program cares for more than 1,000 patients each year at the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC).

The team hosted Rep. Don Young and Sen. Lisa Murkowski at ANMC to learn more about diabetes in Alaska and the impact of the more than 20 SDPI community-directed programs. The team presented highlights of their work, shared an overview of diabetes impact in Alaska and held an SDPI discussion with Young, Murkowski, and Consortium and Alaska Native Health Board leadership.

“Receiving this award means we are on the right path as serving as a premier resource for diabetes care, prevention and surveillance,” said Judy Thompson, Director of the ANTHC Diabetes Program. “We’re fortunate to have a great team that is passionate about caring for our patients and will advocate for the necessary resources.”



Yankton Sioux Tribe Community Directed Diabetes Prevention Program  
Wagner, S.D.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe Community Directed Diabetes Prevention Program provides primary prevention activities to effect lifestyle change in at risk youth and their families. Each family is invited to participate in a multidisciplinary program to begin making healthy lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes. They receive assessment and counseling regarding nutrition, physical activity and psychosocial considerations, where every child completes a clinical evaluation and fitness test. Monthly sessions are held in third grade classrooms, covering nutrition and exercise, with a locally created curriculum.

Help us congratulate these programs in the comments section below!

For more information on Native American Heritage Month, visit our website.

And, for a limited time, take advantage of our Native American Heritage Month half-off promotion at ShopDiabetes.org! Using the code NAHM50OFF, you’ll receive 50 percent off a package of Awakening the Spirit Program Brochures and a recipe sampler filled with tasty American Indian recipes for people with diabetes or those trying to prevent diabetes.


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