U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Library of Medicine (NLM) <>
For Immediate Release:  Monday, September 26, 2011

CONTACT: Kathleen Cravedi, National Library of Medicine, 301-496-6308, <
e-mail:[log in to unmask]>

Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness first of its

A new exhibition examining concepts of health and medicine among
contemporary American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, is
opening at the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes
of Health. Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness,
explores the connection between wellness, illness, and cultural life through
a combination of interviews with Native people, artwork, objects, and
interactive media.

Opening events will be held Oct. 5, 2011 and will include ceremonial dancing
and the blessing of a healing totem pole that was created for the exhibition
and installed in front of the Library. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m.
in the auditorium of the Lister Hill Center (Building 38A) on the NIH campus
in Bethesda, Md. At 11:45 a.m., events move to the front of the Library
(Building 38) for the blessing of the healing totem pole and the exhibition,
and for the exhibition ribbon-cutting. Native Voices opens to the public
Oct. 6.

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 contiguous United States.

"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. "We hope visitors will find Native
Voices educational and inspirational, and we hope Native people will view it
with pride. The Library is excited to open this exhibition, and to do it
during our 175th anniversary year."

Topics featured in the exhibition 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.

In addition to the collection of interviews, here are some of the objects
visitors will find in the exhibition:

-- In the lobby of the Library, guiding people into the exhibition, is a
10-foot model of the Hokule'a, a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe used
for long-distance travel. Visitors will learn how the mission of the
Hokule'a  has spurred a Hawaiian cultural and health revival.

-- Inside the exhibition, in a section that explores Native games for
survival, strength and sports, visitors will find a vintage surfboard and
learn about Native Hawaiian sportsman Duke Kahanamoku, who won Olympic
medals in swimming and revived the sport of surfboarding.

-- Ceremonial drums, pipes, and rattles from the Upper Plains Indians grace
a section on healing.

-- A World War II radio is one object that helps tell the story of Navajo
and other American Indian Code Talkers. Visitors will learn about their
service to the country and the ceremonies performed by traditional healers
to help relieve combat-related stress experienced by returning veterans.

-- The 20-foot healing totem pole created by master carver Jewell Praying
Wolf James and the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation in the Pacific
Northwest is located in the herb garden in front of the Library. Visitors
will discover the meaning of the stories, symbols and colors on the totem
pole and two benches that accompany it. In the weeks preceding the
exhibition opening, the totem received blessings from a number of tribes as
it was transported across the country to be permanently installed at the
Library. Previous work by carver Jewell James includes healing totems to
honor the victims of the September 11th attacks. Those totems are now
installed in Arrow Park in New York, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and at the
Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.

To make the Native Voices information accessible to people who can't come to
the Library, there is an online version of the exhibition at <>
. The Library hopes to develop a travelling version consisting of a series
of banners with information.

For people interested in Native health issues in general, the Library's
collection of free online information contains material on Native health

-- An American Indian Health portal to issues affecting the health and well
being of American Indians (

-- An Arctic Health website with information on diverse aspects of the
Arctic environment and health of northern peoples (

-- A Native American Health page on, the Library's consumer
health website (

For the media

Please contact Kathy Cravedi ([log in to unmask] and 301-496-6308) or
Melanie Modlin ([log in to unmask] and 301-496-7771) at the National Library of
Medicine for access to the following resources available in advance to
members of the media.

-- By-appointment preview tours of the exhibition 10 a.m-4 p.m., Monday,
Oct. 3, 2011.
-- Thumbnails of images from the exhibition.

-- Video of healing totem blessings available upon request.
-- Availability of key NLM staff and individuals associated with the
exhibition for interviews before, during and after the opening event.

The opening program, with captioning, will be available as a live videocast
at <>, and the archived proceedings can be viewed

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the world's largest library of the
health sciences and collects, organizes and makes available biomedical
science information to scientists, health professionals and the public. It
is celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit
the website at <>.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical
research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal
agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical
research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs,
visit <>.


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Aimee Babcock-Ellis, MLS
(cell phone) 518-225-7127
[log in to unmask]

*Carpe Diem*

“Life is not anything, but an opportunity for something.”
 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe