Campus hosts tribal wellness fair
By Riley Hays
photo by Riley Hays
Sophomore Tina Barth speaks with Lola Smith, a coordinator
and advocate for the Native American program.
Wellness professionals from around the Fox Valley presented information at the Oneida Community Health Center and Benefits Fair in UW-Fox Valley’s student union Sept. 23.
The event, sponsored by the Oneida Comprehensive Health Division and American Indian Services of the Fox Valley (AIS-FV), a program of Goodwill, was organized for Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) and UW-Fox students entering health and human service professions.
Representatives from the health center also provided additional information to tribal members about services available through Oneida Tribal Programs.
Carla Lopez, medical benefits coordinator, helped attendees enroll in health care platforms like BadgerCare, family planning services and Oneida SeniorCare, a prescription drug program.
“We want students and the community to know about these services,” Lopez said.
Lisa Hurst, team leader of AIS-FV, and Carla Rabe, assistant campus dean, collaborated with the Oneida Nation to bring the fair to UW-Fox.
“I wanted to connect with UW-Fox and [FVTC students] to let them know that these great resources exist. Whatever career that you pursue after college, you are going to be providing services to Native Americans.
“I look at all the offices and agencies that are present today as hidden treasures,” Hurst said.
Rabe enjoyed working with Hurst to coordinate the event.
“I have a passion for collaborating with others and providing opportunities to our students,” Rabe said.
Hurst and representatives wanted to reach out to the Native American community in the area who may not have access to health care.
“There are around 3,500 Native American folks residing throughout the Fox Valley area and most people don’t know that. Another thing that people don’t know is when you’re talking about people of color, we’re the most underserved population.
“My whole objective is to help Native Americans in the Valley connect with people that can support them in the path they walk in regards to health and wellness,” she said.
Students learned how affiliates handled Native American health and wellness at the clinic.
Sophomore Tina Barth received academic advice from a representative.
“I wanted to talk to her about behavioral health because I want to do counseling. She was giving me different ideas about people in social work and counseling that kind of work together to help patients. [The representative] encouraged me to keep going with my education,” Barth said.
UW-Green Bay student Ken Shearer came to campus for the event.
“I was most interested in discovering how their offerings could be used to benefit others in the community. I also learned that their approach to health care is holistic, it focuses on the mind, body and spirit,” he said.
Attendees were also educated about language and culture of the Oneida.
Stephanie Stevens, contract coordinator for Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant spoke about current developments of the Oneida Language Revitalization Project for youth.
“We take traditional stories and language and base curriculum in a deeper teaching where nature is the classroom.
“Native Americans are more hands-on, tactile learners and the research is there to prove that so we develop curriculum that can correspond with their language learning style,” Stevens said.
Stevens and project coordinators created a website featuring posters, videos, mp3s and interactive games to bridge traditional teachings with digital media to reach youth.
“There’s definitely a [language] gap between the youth and their elders and we’re working to reconnect them, so the website and technology is how we can do that,” Stevens said.
Stevens also helped create a children’s field guide to help identify medicinal plants.
Each page contains a picture of the plant, its Oneida name, a brief description of the plant and traditional uses of the plant.
“That’s using language and culture and it’s a way for them to reconnect with their roots and learn about the traditional medicines for the Oneida,” Stevens said.
Representatives of the Oneida Community Health Center mainly wanted students to inform others about the benefits of Oneida Tribal Programs.
“We brought all of our services here today so people can find out what we have to offer…maybe they can reach out to people in the community or have family members or friends to just spread the word to people who need assistance,” Denny said.
According to their mission statement, the primary goal of Oneida Comprehensive Health Division is to provide the highest level of quality, culturally sensitive and holistic preventative health care to Native Americans.
The organization was created to consolidate all health services within one area of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin in 2006.
Several departments presented information concerning medical, dental, optical and behavioral services offered.
A spokeswoman from Oneida Contract Health (OCH), a grant-funded alternative resource program of the Oneida Community Health Center, also presented information.
“When our patients come to the Oneida Community Health Center and there are services that we are not able to provide and they need specialty care, we refer them to outside providers.
“We exhaust all alternative resources first and then we [have a grant program that exists to] pay for the health care needs of eligible patients,” Patricia Denny, Contract Health supervisor, said.
Eligibility requirements include being an Oneida tribal member or descendant residing in Brown or Outagamie County, a member of another federally recognized tribe within the Oneida reservation or a person with socioeconomic ties to the Oneida Tribe.
Ties would include being married to a tribal member, raising children or a tribal employee.
An Oneida tribal member may qualify if they leave the reservation for college and will receive assistance up to 180 days after completion of their program.
For more information about Oneida health programs and culture, visit http://www.oneidanation.org.