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Powwow at JCCC
Powwow at JCCC
Powwow at JCCC features health screenings, food and entertainment
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Johnson County Community College and the University of Kansas Medical Center are once again teaming up to host a powwow and health fair.
The sixth annual "Our Nations Energies Health and Wellness Powwow" will take place on Friday, May 4, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, May 5, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at JCCC's Gym. It is sponsored by the American Indian Health Research & Education Alliance, a joint venture that began six years ago between the college, the medical center and several area American Indian community organizations.
AIHREA has grown significantly since its early days and so has the powwow, said Sean Daley, a JCCC associate professor of anthropology who was instrumental in starting the organization.
"The idea behind AIHREA was to pull resources and pull energy to address Indian concerns in the area," Daley said. "We have at least a dozen projects going on now and the powwow is one of the bigger ones."
The event is open to the public. Admission is free, as are the health screenings that will be administered by medical center health professionals. Food will be available for purchase along with arts and crafts.
A grand entry of Native dancers will take place at 7 p.m. Friday and again at 2 p.m. Saturday. A gourd dance, a traditional Indian dance, will begin at noon Saturday. And dance competitions with participants who registered in advance will take place Saturday afternoon.
"We have people from all walks of life come to watch and we encourage that," Daley said.
Attendance has been growing over the years. More than 1,200 people participated last year in the health screenings that included tests for cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, vision and lung health.
"One of the things we do that makes us a little different is that we have follow up and referrals," Daley said. "If we identify you with a serious condition, you see a doctor assuming you want to. We have an agreement worked out with KU Med. A few years ago, we found a brain tumor on the spot and within a few days we had the woman in surgery and the tumor was removed."
AIHREA's collaborators include the Indian tribes in Kansas, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and the Heart of American Indian Center in Kansas City. The alliance also works closely with Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Kansas and the junior and senior high schools in Lawrence.
Soon after the formation of AIHREA, the KU Medical Center took the lead in applying for federal grants to support the organization's work. The grants helped bring about the opening of the Center for American Indian Studies at JCCC in the fall of 2010. Daley is the director of the center and Ed Smith serves as its research project coordinator.
Among AIHREA's projects is a smoking cessation program geared toward American Indians. The program, called All Nations Breath of Life, takes into account the use of tobacco in Indian ceremonial activities. The program was put together by KU researchers and is now in use nationwide.
AIHREA also has youth outreach and diabetes programs and conducts healthy home assessments to determine whether mold or other noxious elements are making Native children sick. The alliance also is working on a documentary about a Navajo code talker from World War II and is conducting a study on contemporary American Indian identity to determine how it influences health practices.
"We do a lot, Daley said, "or at least we try to do a lot."