May 25, 2013

Native environmental health in The Return

‘The Return’ illustrates Native American environmental health story

By Catherine ShenThrough imaginative storytelling and art, “The Return” conveys environmental health from a Native American perspective. A center within the UW School of Public Health worked with Native American tribes to create and publish the illustrated story as a 32-page comic book.

One of the goals of this Native Tradition, Environment and Community Health Project was to find out how Native American ways of understanding the world and our place in it differ from the Western concept of environmental health. Surveys, interviews, and talking circles identified three core themes of Native environmental health: community, wellness, and inter-relationship.

“The Return” was created from the findings. It is a dreamlike account of a Native woman and her baby, and tells how these three concepts are passed to the next generation.

Michelle Montgomery, senior fellow in the UW Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the UW Center for Genomics & Healthcare Equality, and Nicholas Salazar, a student at the Institute for American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M., developed the book. Montgomery is a tribal member affiliated with the Haliwa Saponi and Eastern Band Cherokee.
Comment:  You can read The Return as a PDF here.

For more on Native-themed comic books, see Bad Kids Go to Hell and Jonah Hex's Final Wife.


Anonymous said...

I'd have to look at it first. Unfortunately, there's a tendency to associate woowoo (If you want to know what woowoo is, just take a trip to Sedona.) with both Indians and the environment, even though neither Indians nor enviros want anything to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Art! Lovely story

Anonymous said...

This story was written by Native women from the Northwest Coast, I believe it is a tasteful and beautiful story, we can all learn from.


Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

New book shapes environmental health through storytelling

A fairytale-like account of a Native American woman and her baby is serving as a new kind of teaching tool.

“The Return,” a 32-page comic-book created by the UW Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health (CEEH) and the Northwest Indian College, seeks to help more young people understand environmental health.

Jon Sharpe, CEEH administrator, said environmental health is about the connection between the environment and human health.

“It’s not a very well known field,” Sharpe said, “so part of what we were working on is trying to get kids to at least have some idea of what this field is about, so that they might consider going into it when they’re in college and we get more environmental health scientists doing this important research.”

Told from a Native American perspective, the story was developed through research funded by a grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Tribal college students participated in surveys and focus groups to produce three core values of the native concepts of environmental health--the importance of community, wellness, and interconnection.