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Traveling exhibition explores Native peoples' concepts of health and illness

June 13th, 2014 | Staff Report Print this article   Email this article  

A new traveling exhibition, "Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness," which examines concepts of health and medicine among contemporary American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians is previewing at the Dena'ina Center, Anchorage Convention Center next week.

The traveling exhibition, produced by the National Library of Medicine, explores the connection between wellness, illness, and cultural life through a combination of interviews with Native people, including Alaskan natives, artwork, objects, and interactive media.

The exhibition will remain open for viewing by attendees of the Mid-Year Conference of the National Congress of American Indians until June 12 and then it will be open to the public in Anchorage at the Alaska Native Heritage Center from June 13 to mid-September.

The National Library of Medicine has a history of working with Native communities as part of the library's commitment to make health information resources accessible to people no matter where they live or work. The "Native Voices" exhibition concept grew out of meetings with Native leaders in Alaska, Hawaii and the Lower 48.

"This exhibition honors the Native tradition of oral history and establishes a unique collection of information," says Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, director of the National Library of Medicine in a release. "We hope visitors will find 'Native Voices' both educational and inspirational and we hope Native people will view it with pride."

The traveling exhibition features interviews and works from Native people living on reservations, in tribal villages, and in cities.

Topics include: Native views of land, food, community, earth/nature, and spirituality as they relate to Native health; the relationship between traditional healing and Western medicine in Native communities; economic and cultural issues that affect the health of Native communities; efforts by Native communities to improve health conditions; and the role of Native Americans in military service and healing support for returning Native veterans.

To make the Native Voices information accessible to people even if they can't come to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, there is an online version of the exhibition at


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