As Americans have just celebrated Father’s Day, June is also the month that raises awareness of preventable health issues, and encourages early detection and treatment of diseases among Native American men.
Men are genuinely indifferent when it comes to their personal health and mental wellness, yet they always want to be there to support their families. The most specific disease common to men, and Native American men, are prostate issues, but they also experience diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. Another disease common to men’s health, according to Dr. Curtis Randolph PhD, LPC with Native Americans for Community Action’s (NACA) Behavioral Health division states, is historical trauma, which stems from traumatic events that occurred in a certain group or culture’s history, causing mental health issues from generation to generation.
Jeff Axtell, CEO of NACA, says,
“Native American men face greater health disparities, so regular healthcare visits and screening tests are important in reducing the risks of common health issues that affect men. Early detection and prevention can save lives, and during Men’s Health Month it is important to encourage men to make their health a priority.”
Diseases of the prostate generally affect men over 50. The prostate is a small gland located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It tends to grow with age as it aids in making semen. However, if it gets too large, it can cause problems.
Some common symptoms of prostate problems include:
- Urgency to urinate,
- Increased frequency of urination,
- Pain or burning while urination,
- Slow stream or dripping on urination,
- Blood in the urine or semen,
- Pain during ejaculation,
- Pain in the lower back, hips, pelvis, and/or upper thighs.
If you have any of the above-mentioned issues, you should be seen by a NACA professional right away. You may be experiencing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), acute bacterial prostatitis, chronic bacterial prostatitis, or your symptoms could be that of prostate cancer, which is not all that uncommon. A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test can aid in the diagnosis of prostate problems including cancer, BPH, or an infection.
Diabetes is prevalent in Native Americans as one in six American Indian and Alaska Native adults were diagnosed with diabetes by 2019. That is more than double the general U.S. population, according to the Native Indian Council on Aging, Inc.
Why? Migration from our rural lifestyle to a more urban environment is largely responsible. Indigenous people have experienced a decrease in physical activity and a higher level of stress than of their ancestors. That accompanied by a less healthy diet, obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and the barriers of health care have all contributed to the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes in Native Americans. Between the two genders, men are almost twice as likely to get the disease as women.
Symptoms of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequency of urination
- Often hungry
- Unintentional weight loss
- Numbness or tingling of the hands and/or feet
- Blurry vision
- Extreme tiredness
- Unusually dry skin
A blood test to check the glucose level of your blood will aid in diagnosis. Sometimes a two-hour blood test is recommended. Your blood will be drawn after a fasting period. You are then given a very sweet drink or meal, and two hours later, your blood is drawn again. The results can be revealing.
Following a good health regimen of eating properly, maintaining proper weight, and, if needed, taking regular medication, and routine monitoring will go a long way in controlling the disease.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, also tends to run in families. Individuals whose parents, grandparents, and/or siblings have the disease, are more likely to also have it. Eating high-fat foods and those containing a lot of salt exacerbate the problem. While not everyone who has high blood pressure will experience symptoms, some do, and they may include:
- Shortness of breath,
- Chest pain,
- Vision changes.
Managing hypertension can be a matter of controlling diet and weight. Prescription medicine may be necessary for some, and monitoring is easy with routine blood pressure checks. As with diabetes, men are more likely to have high blood pressure and heart disease than women. American Indians are at a higher risk to die from these diseases, as well as liver disease and chronic lower respiratory diseases, than other Americans, according to Indian Health Services. In fact, heart disease and diabetes, along with malignant tumors and unintentional injuries, lead the way in causes of death in American Indians.
Obesity is usually the result of overeating due to unhealthy eating habits and stagnate lifestyles with little to no exercise or outdoor activity. According to the American Psychological Association, the Department of Health and Human Services noted almost 33 percent of all American Indians and Alaska Natives adults are obese and that they are 1.6 times more likely to be obese than Caucasians. This disease can lead to all other men’s health issues such as:
· Heart Disease
· High levels of blood fats
· LDL cholesterol
NACA’s Wellness Center has licensed and qualified fitness professionals and trainers, who will help you get down to your healthy weight range and goal to achieve a healthier lifestyle. Mr. Axtell stated some ways to combat obesity by, “Adopting positive lifestyle choices and healthy habits include, keeping up with routine health care provider visits, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep each night, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting commercial tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active.”
According to SAMHSA.gov, historical trauma is the cumulative, multigenerational, collective experience of emotional and psychological injury in communities and in descendants. Native Americans have experienced numerous traumatic events throughout history such as the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee Massacre, and Dawes General Allotment Act. Through these events, indigenous people’s traditions have changed in regards to child rearing, family structure, and relationships. Over time, certain tribes, more so men of the tribes, develop the following hardships and health side effects to these historical traumas:
· A breakdown of traditional family values
· Abuse of alcohol and commercial tobacco
· Depression, anxiety, and suicidality
· Child abuse, neglect, and domestic violence
· Posttraumatic stress disorder
· General loss of meaning and sense of hope
· Internalized oppression and hatred toward oneself
Mr. Axtell noted that, “Learning to effectively manage stress and talking to mental health providers is important. Many men are hesitant to seek medical attention, as they see it as a sign of weakness. Families and communities should remind men that it is a sign of strength to talk to a healthcare provider and take control of their health.”
Dr. Randolph adds that, “NACA’s counselors (at the Behavioral Health Center) are here to help mitigate the effects of historical trauma and resulting negative behavioral health issues that can arise from this intergenerational issue.”
Risk Reduction, Monitoring, and Treatment at NACA’s Family Health Center
Don’t wait for minor symptoms to become an overwhelming problem. Take advantage of Men’s Health Awareness Month, or set up an appointment anytime, for a routine exam. Mr. Axtell mentions, “An annual physical with your healthcare provider allows you to screen for many chronic diseases through simple tests. A FIT kit tests for colorectal screening, prostate exams for prostate cancer screening, A1c screening for diabetes, and other simple screening tests that can add years to your live through early detection.”
American Indian men have an expected lifespan of 75.8 years, according to the Office of Minority Health. Non-Hispanic white men have a life expectancy of 78.4 years. Let’s live longer!
Schedule your appointment for men’s services through the NACA Wellness Center for:
- Consultation with a urologist and PSA testing for prostate problems,
- Glucose testing and consultation for control of diabetes,
- High blood pressure monitoring with the possibility of prescription medication,
- Controlled exercise and diet monitoring for obesity and overall health.
Mr. Axtell ends with this statement, “Avoiding the doctor will not make health issues go away, so health care providers and men should work together to detect, prevent, and treat men’s health issues. Understanding the risks and taking action to reduce those risks benefits the health of men and their families, ensuring your continued contributions to the community. Prioritize your health, show your strength, and set a good example for young men and boys.”
NACA’s Family Health Center asks that men take time this month to recognize your own health and work with us to take the necessary steps to treat any health concerns that may hinder you. We aim to do our part in combating men’s health problems through awareness, health screenings, prevention, and the best treatment options to ensure you will be there for your family for many years to come.
To schedule an appointment at our Family Health Center or Behavioral Health Center, call (928) 773-1245 or email email@example.com. To kick-start a healthier you with a trainer at our Wellness Center, call (928) 773-1245 ext. 221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NACA’s 2021 Sacred Mountain Prayer Run – A Source of Healing & Prayer
The Sacred Mountain Prayer Run is back, and virtual in 2021!
It’s that time of year again, the time to get out your running shoes and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul with Native Americans for Community Action’s (NACA) annual Sacred Mountain Prayer Run. However, there is one twist. It will be virtual family races! This way you get to experience the physical and spiritual healing attributes with your family, on your time, staying safe, and taking in all that nature and physical activity have to offer. Tallerita Tunney-Rogers, Director of Community Development at NACA, stated the significance of the run is that, “Indigenous people have been running for a variety of reasons, from sending messages across large distances as well as for the healing benefits of running.”
The Importance of Traditional Medicines & Prayer
Physical activity has been used as a traditional method of healing and meditation among the indigenous people for many years. Particularly in Arizona, Native Americans run on a daily basis to not only enrich their spiritual health, but also strengthen their bodies and stay in shape. Ms. Tunney-Rogers said for her, “the pull of running as a form of prayer speaks to me especially as an effective way that was passed down to me from my dad to manage difficult times in life.” Although this practice is not done throughout all indigenous tribes, the concept of combining physical wellbeing with spiritual wellbeing to connect and heal one’s inner soul with the earth does resonate with everyone, even those of other religions.
In regards to the physical health benefits, Ms. Tunney-Rogers said that “running can also serve as a form of meditation that contributes to mental resilience and wellbeing.” Tribal cultures also use herbs, ceremonies, and prayer harmoniously together as ways of treating and preventing illness while improving their overall health. Unfortunately, the younger generations are falling away from these traditions passed down from their parents and grandparents. The more these traditions are not followed, the more tribes will experience diabetes, which was almost unheard of less than 100 years ago. This is why it is important to note the healing properties that stem from running, while also incorporating prayer to keep one’s spiritual journey intact.
NACA’s 2021 Sacred Mountain Prayer Run Details
NACA is committed to help fight against diabetes and obesity around their community with bringing activities and events that promote a healthy and active lifestyle. As one of the longest running foot races in Flagstaff, AZ, the Sacred Mountain Prayer Run represents a time honored tradition of connecting one’s physical wellbeing rooted in nature all while focusing on your spiritual and emotional wellbeing as well. Our organization wants to keep the indigenous people’s traditions alive because of the physical and spiritual properties practiced that ensure everyone is staying active, but also not forgetting their heritage and that spiritual health is vitally important when combined with your overall physical wellbeing.
In the past, the race has started just outside of historic Downtown Flagstaff at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks, which offered many twists and turns for a challenging and rewarding course. Since the race is being done virtually, due to COVID-19 safety regulations, the participant will get to choose where they wish to race, how long either 2k, 5k, or 10k, and complete their race within the events timeline starting from May 30th and ending on June 5th, 2021. Ms. Tunney-Rogers, who also oversees many other programs associated with NACA like the Reach UR Life, LIFE Program, and the Supportive Services, pointed out that the event would, “host up to 200 runners, however race participation has fluctuated significantly over the past 5 years.” She added that since the race isn’t a fundraising event for NACA’s Supportive Services programs and won’t be competitive, “there are no place prizes, however, we will be providing participation medals for paid registrants.” If you would like to make a donation to the Supportive Services, you still can during registration whether online or in-person. With the race conversion being a virtual event, it allows individuals to register online, but you can still register in-person at both NACA locations through June 3rd, 2021, with registration packets being mailed out to all participants.
For the community, Ms. Tunney-Rogers ended on this note,
“running as a form of healing and prayer have been a part of the Indigenous culture…I invite the entire running community to join in on the conversation about how running has benefitted them by using #RunFlagstaff #2021SMPR and tagging us @NACAFlagstaff.”
We hope you will join in on the fun this year and use running in a way to heal you mind, body, and soul.
To register for this wonderful, life-fulling event, visit nacainc.org/prayer-run, or to request a mailed registration form, please email email@example.com.
To learn more about NACA or how you can get involved with our organization, please contact us today.
With schools out, families going on vacation, and people getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, many are on the lookout for what to do and how to stay healthy and active this summer. Even though you’re active, it’s important to incorporate healthy things to do to stay in shape and enjoy all life has to offer. Carrie Dallas, Program Coordinator of the Lasting Indigenous Family Enrichment (L.I.F.E.) Program at Native Americans for Community Action (NACA), said,
“The perfect diagram of a healthy lifestyle is the Indigenous Medicine wheel. The diagram depicts balance in one’s life physically, mentally, cognitively, spiritually, and socially.”
Upcoming Summer Activities at NACA
NACA will be offering a host of fun summer events and activities that focus on staying healthy, while having fun with family and friends. Ms. Dallas mentioned several events that are taking place like the Navajo Cake, Pueblo bread making, steaming corn, playing Zuni games like shuttlecock, and even sharing culture through cultural expert presentations. Here are some of the featured events and activities NACA has available for you.
Health Promotion activities:
Summer Hiking series: This event occurs every last Saturday of the month and is a wonderful time to explore the great outdoors and local Flagstaff trails, which are suitable for every one of all age groups. All hikes begin at 7:30 a.m. at the head of the trail and last for about 2 hours. See you on the trails!
Sign up here now: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSfud9ligJkAOS…/viewform
Upcoming Hiking events:
June 26th – Fisher Point (Boys and Girls Club)
July 31st – Schultz Creel Trail No. 152 (with the NACA Family Enrichment Camp)
August 28th – Picture Canyon
September 25th – Lockett Meadow
Family Summer Camp (July 31st – August 1st): Enjoy summer camp with your family at the Colton Community Gardens, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., for a weekend of trail walking, sharing about cultures, and opportunities to win prizes! Even though the camp is FREE, registration is required, limit 60 participants with a healthy breakfast and lunch provided Saturday and Sunday. Children must be accompanied by a parent/guardian for the duration of the camp.
Register here today: https://na.eventscloud.com/familyenrich or call (928) 526-2968 for more details. We hope to see you and your family for our Family Summer Camp!
Knot Run/Walk: Join us August 10th to August 22nd in Reverberating the 1680 Revolution of the Southwest. This FREE running/walking event follows the Knotted Rope, which was carried from village to village, unifying the Southwest through running. If it wasn’t for this significant time, Indigenous’ cultures would not have sustained the traditional lifestyle and values we hold dear today. Join with us as we continue the tradition together and learn more of the history and important facts surrounding this time honored tradition.
Feel free to add up your miles throughout the 12 day duration, which is a 20k or 12.4 miles. You run/walk anywhere you would like in any increment that works for you, 5k/10k/20k. To meet this in walking terms would be a mile a day. Track your run/walk and submit to us or share with us on Facebook @NACAFlagstaff with the hashtags #KNOTRUN, #THRIVE, and #INDIGENOUSWELLNESS.
Sign up today: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSe2hxHlqaDnWP…/viewform or contact us for more details at (928) 773-1245, ext. 221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NACA’s L.I.F.E. Program Summer Activities
NACA’s L.I.F.E. Program is grant funded by the Center for Disease Control’s Tribal Practices for Wellness in Indian Country (TPWIC) grant. Ms. Dallas stated that the TPWIC grant, “focuses on the Indigenous populations because Native Americans have high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Our program is designed to utilize tribal practices to help Indigenous people feel empowered to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
By providing these summer activities, we help Indigenous people hold on to rituals, practices, and cultures passed down from their ancestors while introducing healthier life-altering routines such as recipes and fitness presentations. Ms. Dallas added, “We want people to know these activities are happening and the L.I.F.E. program is here for them.”
Here are a couple volunteer gardening outings, presentations and family fitness events, group walk to run, and Pueblo bread cooking activities to add to your family’s summer calendar.
Garden Volunteer Days and Potluck: Happening every Sunday, we’ll plant warm weather crops and learn how to care for gardens and the importance of composting.
Noon – 3 p.m. at Colton Community Garden
3 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Izabel Community Garden
June 13th – Plant warm weather crops and transplants
June 20th – Caring for the garden and composting
June 27th – Caring for the garden (Only at Colton)
Presentations and Family Fitness: Every Tuesday evening, from 6 to 8 at the Puente de Hozho Elementary School gym, we’ll have cultural presentations discussing our cultural background along with family fitness discussions on eating healthy and understanding the differences between our emotions and feelings.
June 15th – “Gather” Film Screening
June 22nd – Understanding our Emotions and Feelings with Jacelyn Salabye
June 29th – Rainwater Harvesting with Emily Melhorn
Group Walk to Run: This event occurs every Thursday night, from 6 to 7 at Buffalo Park, as a way to stay in shape and enjoy nature. Soak up the area around you letting it fill you up and enrich you mind, body, and spirit.
Special Event: Pueblo Bread Cooking Demonstration by Somana Tootsie: Start your morning off with a unique demonstration on traditional Pueblo bread cooking, brought to you by Somana Tootsie, owner of Somana’s Traditional Catering. You won’t want to miss it!
Date: June 27th, 8 a.m. to noon at the Colton Community Garden
Don’t forget about the Oak Creek Overlook Native Artisan Market, where you can purchase all kinds of handcrafted Native American gifts and items like jewelry, ornaments, pottery, and decorations for your home. Even hear stories and creative expressions directly from the Native American artists and craftsmen themselves!
Located off Highway 89a, just 17 minutes south of Flagstaff, or 25 minutes north of Sedona, we’re open 7 days a week both summer and winter months! Come out and see what our shops have to offer you today!
Summer – 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Winter – 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
We hope to see you at one of our many activities this summer as we’re here to help see you and your family healthy, happy, and enjoying life to the fullest. If you want to get involved with the L.I.F.E. Program, contact Carrie Dallas at (928) 526-2968, ext. 165 or email email@example.com. To learn more about NACA or how you can get involved with our organization, please contact us today!
NACA Celebrates Two of its Nurses during National Nurses Week
National Nurses Week, May 6th – 12th, is a time to honor and recognize nurses for the heart and dedication they bring to their patients in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and clinics all across the country. Only a year has passed since the coronavirus pandemic occurred and since then countless nurses, both men and women, stepped up the call to action to provide round the clock care to millions of patients, who were struck ill with the deadly virus. They administered not only treatments and care, but peace and comfort to those not able to have family members with them either in their last days or until they recovered and were able to go home.
Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) is using this week to highlight two of their on-staff nurses at their Family Health Clinic. One of their nurses, Natalie Metz, a nurse practitioner, said,
“Being a nurse means spending time with patients and understanding what about their health is important to them. It means believing that patients are experts in their own health and finding ways to support them in their journey.”
NACA’s Family Health Center Highlights Two On-staff Nurses
Natalie Metz, DNP, APRN, FNP-C – has been on staff with NACA since 2018, but has been a registered nurse since 2011 as a certified family nurse practitioner, advanced practice registered nurse, and doctor of nursing practice. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Northern Arizona University, and her Master of Science in Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice from Frontier Nursing University. Ms. Metz first started working in the medical field as a patient care tech at a hospital, mentioning that she, “was able to see each medical specialty and how they interacted with patients. I chose nursing because it allowed me to combine medical and scientific knowledge with patient centered holistic care.” She then completed her nurse practitioner internship with NACA, stating that when she graduated she, “was lucky enough to transition right into practice at NACA and continue to see the same patients I met during school.” NACA’s Family Health Clinic offers a wide range of health services to the community, which is what drew Ms. Metz to the non-profit organization in the first place. Her areas of focus are family medicine with an emphasis on ages five and up, chronic disease management, wellness across the lifespan, LGBTQ+, and sexual health including STI treatment and prevention.
Ms. Metz commented, “I feel confident that my patients will receive quality medical care, as well as mental and physical health support to maintain wellness.” Her passion is to provide medical care to underserved populations and understand the individual needs of her patients.
During Ms. Metz’s free time, she enjoys spending time outside, particularly at the beach, doing all kinds of activities. She also likes relaxing with her wife, making fermented foods and playing fantasy football.
Verity Quiroz RN, MSN – has been on staff with NACA since 2020, but has been a registered nurse since 2004 with her specialty as a primary care nurse. She received her Associates Degree of Nursing from Cochise Community College and her Master of Science in Nursing from Walden University. Ms. Quiroz was drawn to NACA due in large part to her native heritage and when asked why she became a nurse, she said that, “I am a third generation nurse, my grandmother, my mother, and two of my aunts are in the nursing field. I was drawn to the occupation from the start.” Since graduating, she has worked in numerous medical positions starting from medical surgical, medical telemetry, overflow, nephrology, employee health, infection control to outpatient pediatrics, which include plastic surgery, orthopedics, cleft lip and palate, scoliosis, and cerebral palsy, just to name a few. She added that, “Healthcare can be difficult to navigate, (but) I am driven to advocate for patients and their healthcare needs.” Her passion is caring for underserved populations such as pediatrics and geriatrics.
During Ms. Quiroz’s free time, she loves fitness and workouts regularly, and enjoys going camping and hiking in the great outdoors with her husband and their four children, who keep them busy with soccer and gymnastics. She also helps her husband at his ranch on the Navajo Nation reservation and they all like to travel as often as they can.
NACA’s Family Health Clinic
The nurses at NACA’s Family Health Clinic are more than just nurses, but are here to ensure you’re well taken care of and get the health check-ups and medications necessary to keep you living and living life to the fullest. Ms. Quiroz ended with this comment that,
“Nursing is not just medical care. It is whole body, mind, and spirit care. We are often friends, confidants, counselors, caregivers, attendants, nannies, and nurturers. Nursing is compassion, advocacy, reliability, responsibility, and it is 100% what we want to do.”
If you need medical care, our clinic is here with many services to meet your needs. From acute and chronic illness care, physicals, immunizations, STD Testing, Diabetes Management, Pap and Breast Exams, Family Planning, to Well-Child checks, and WIC (up to age 5). We pride ourselves in focusing on Native American health care, while offering medical attention to the entire Flagstaff community, with a whole person in mind to get them the medical help they need. We are committed to providing compassionate, patient sensitive, and culturally sensitive clinic staff, like Ms. Metz and Ms. Quiroz, to guarantee the best healthcare for our patients. For your convenience, we also accept most private insurances as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and we do provide services for visitors, who plan to self-pay.
To schedule an appointment and start your healthcare journey in the right direction, call our Family Health Clinic at (928) 773-1245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about NACA or how you can get involved with our organization, please contact us today.