New national exhibit explores Native Peoples’ concepts of health and illness

Dr. Gayle Diné Chacon to speak at April 23 UNM opening reception

A new exhibit, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness,” will be on display at UNM’s Domenici Center for Health Sciences Education beginning on Wednesday, April 22. The National Library of Medicine’s (NLM’s) traveling exhibit explores the connections among wellness, illness and cultural life for contemporary American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians. It will be available for public viewing through October 18, 2015, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., in the auditorium lobby of the Domenici Center.

Honoring the Native tradition of oral history, NLM gathered a multitude of healing voices from across the country to record people’s stories in their own words. Healers, elders and other key figures describe how epidemics, loss of land, loss of lives and the inhibition of culture in the 19th and 20th centuries affect the health of Native individuals and communities today. “Native Voices” presents an inspiring story of endurance, resilience and self-determination.

An opening reception will be held Thursday, April 23, 4-6 p.m. in Domenici Center Auditorium on UNM's North Campus. Gayle Diné Chacon, MD, medical director for the Pueblo of Sandia, will deliver the keynote address. Diné Chacon is a former professor in the UNM Family Medicine Department and the founder of the UNM Center for Native American Health.

“I hope the exhibit brings light to the many adversities we face in Indian health care,” she says. “Not to say we should dwell on the adversities – we know the challenges – but it’s important to explore the models we have in Indian communities in the treatment of chronic and complex diseases where adequate resources may be scarce. We need to ask, ‘How could these models be applicable to other Native communities, urban settings and the nation as a whole?’”

Diné Chacon was recognized as one of 2013’s New Mexico Women of Influence by Gov. Susana Martinez. In 2011, Diné Chacon was appointed the Surgeon General of the Navajo Nation through an agreement with the UNM Health Sciences Center, helping to create and develop the Navajo Nation Department of Health.

“As a Native physician, it is important to have passion and commitment to improving the health status of our people,” Diné Chacon says.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Laura Hall at or 505/272-6518.

Categories: Community

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