April 17, 2011

Student exposes Cherokee to Internet, medicine?

Here's an article I think I glanced at but didn't pay enough attention to:

Fellowship recipient advocates for increased Cherokee Internet use

By Harrison OkinWith the click of a mouse, senior Kaitlyn Jongkind exposed a group of Cherokee Native Americans to the Internet, expanding their world­—and giving them a link to modern medicine.

Jongkind, a nutrition major, lived on a reservation in the town of Cherokee for two months last summer and gathered information to develop a website that raises awareness about Type 2 diabetes.

“This type of diabetes is directly related to weight,” she said. “We need to encourage programs with nutrition and physical activity.”

Jongkind said most Cherokee are not accustomed to using the Internet. As a result, she said the Cherokee often suffer from preventable conditions like diabetes because they lack the ability to use online resources.
The Daily Tar Heel published its own correction before others could do it:Due to reporting errors, the story below incorrectly portrayed Kaitlyn Jongkind’s research and the Cherokee tribe. The article incorrectly suggested that the Cherokee Native Americans are unexposed to modern medicine. It also incorrectly implied that Jongkind exposed them to the Internet and linked them to modern medicine. Jongkind researched the potential of using a website she created to spread nutrition awareness in communities with little Internet access.Comment:  There may be rural areas where the Cherokee don't have access to the Internet. Perhaps where they don't even understand how the Internet works.

If so, that also would be true of the rural non-Cherokees who live near the rural Cherokees. The problem would be the people's remote location, not their ethnicity.

Since the Eastern Cherokee have a tribal government, a casino, schools, clinics, a newspaper, businesses, historical and cultural attractions, etc., you can be sure they've heard about the Internet. The article obviously promoted the stereotypical notion of Indians as primitive people of the past.

For more on stereotypical thinking about Indians, see Rename the Dodgers "Yang-nas"? and Search for the Ultimate Warrior Proposal.


Adair Hill said...

This sounds so stupid. I used to live there, I've visited plenty. Sure, not everyone has internet in their homes but certainly they've been exposed to it either in school or somewhere else.. it is 2011 despite the rural location. Chief Hicks has done a lot to bring more internet access to Qualla Boundary. Neighboring towns have the same problems with getting high speed internet in the heart of Appalachia. --Not to mention there are GIGANTIC billboards everywhere in Cherokee telling people to eat fruit and every clinic hands out brochures. The EB Cherokee people I know aren't ignorant. Maybe if healthy foods were more available/affordable people would eat them more.

Matt said...

Ha! The tribe already owns a big chunk of its regional broadband provider.


Kaitlyn said...

Idiotic, I agree! There must have been a complete breakdown of communication between the reporter and me because this is NOT what I said. Actually, type 2 diabetes didn’t emerge in AI communities until white people introduced processed foods. The idea that this disease is caused by a lack of online resources is completely ridiculous. When I studied internet use rates, I found that the majority do use the internet, not the other way around. My research was focused on using a website (one created by the Cherokee Health and Medical Division) to advertise tribal health programs. My research showed the web-based health promotion may be effective in rural communities, such as Cherokee.

Rob said...

Thanks for writing, Kaitlyn. The correction implies the problem was attributable to the writer and the newspaper, not to you. Now you've confirmed it.