Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tucson- meetings with remarkable people

These pictures are from my last days in Arizona. The group shot is of a wonderful evening gathering with fine food and good company at my friend Joy Graves home. The gathering is of people who all are involved in Indigenous health and education and who I have come to know and share with deeply.
We watched a couple of films and then discussed various issues we all face in communities. The films were a good jumping off place into some hot topics. Again and again the issues of trauma arise , the main thing here is the feeling that the issues for Indigenous people here are not even really in the general awareness of most folks and not really much on the national agenda. It would seem in some ways that in Australia we have at least some profile in the public eye and some support through allies in various areas. The issue of removals and abuse in residential schools and the policies relating to these issues is something people feel is in need of more attention here. By showing films and the sharing these things , I feel it is helping us all become clearer about these issues.

The other topics are the near total lack of any kind of adequate health care . This is a national issue across the board. However in the treaties made with Indian people, this was meant to be something that would be provided for Native / Indian tribes and is not really adequate or effective at all. The people I have spoken with call it a basic " life and limb policy" and it means just this. People need to be facing death or disablement to really get assistance and thus the heath situation for people is dire. Many I spoke to had stories of family memebers dying or being very ill and not being able to get help in time . Many suffer as we do at home from high rates of diabetes and though programs try and address this it is still an issue that for the people suffering feels desperate.

I leave Arizona with many good memories and wonderful heartfelt connections , with the hope of future ongoing projects. There is so much to be done and maybe together we can do it.