Navajo News Vice President Jonathan Nez speaks to CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald about the resilience of Native Americans.
Published December 12, 2017
ATLANTA – Vice President Jonathan Nez, co-chair of the Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC), spoke at a public health meeting on Dec. 5 at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The Vice President advised committee members to bear in mind the resilience of native individuals and tribal nations as a whole to reframe the dialogue to that of self-sufficiency versus a narrative of treating our populations as victims.
“We’ve made it through tough times in the history of our people,” Vice President Nez said. “We need to remind each other not to give up because our ancestors never gave up.”
He said that resilience directly relates to the health and wellbeing of all indigenous people. The framing of Native Americans as victims, especially from public health officials, needs to end. Next year will be the 150th anniversary of the Navajo Treaty of 1868 and is a prime example of the tribe’s strength and resilience.
Furthermore, Vice President Nez spoke about the importance of public health education and communication to address the spread of disease and thanked Brenda Fitzgerald, the new CDC director, for helping Native Americans receive the resources and training to help ourselves.
“Public health infrastructure is really needed in our communities, but I also think that hope can help with the betterment of our nations for a lifetime,” Vice President Nez said. “That’s where we need and appreciate your help.”
According to Fitzgerald, the first few years of a child’s life are one of the most important times to build resilience in an individual.
“When you’re talking about building resilience in public health, I think that’s where we have to look at building resilience in our babies,” Fitzgerald said.
“If we’re going to make real, generational change then that’s the secret of it right there – that early stage.”
Additional topics of discussion at the bi-annual meeting for TAC were Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, opioid addiction and injury prevention.