Guest Blog: MichaeLynn Kanichy, Social Marketing and Public Education Specialist at
Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center's Hi•dasubač Program, shared this guest blog with OCH in support of the "Plant Hope, Grow Resilience" campaign. The Hi•dasubač Program is doing incredible work to support resiliency within the Makah Tribe.
In March of 2020, our prevention programs were to come together to serve Makah youth at the Makah Youth Center. However, the Makah Tribe made the difficult decision to close down operations and access our community to the outside world. It was hard to know what to expect; I hoped that perhaps we would be able to open up within the next few months. But when it became clear that working from home would be our new regular, we dove right into exploring how we can serve our community virtually.
We wanted to encourage our community to boost their immunity. I attended a Traditional Medicines and Herbs workshop when the speaker shared their faith that the medicine we need is right in our backyard, especially in Pacific Northwest communities. Our falls and winters are cold and wet. The Pacific Northwest is home to traditional medicines that support upper respiratory illness to protect people in cold and wet climates. This workshop inspired the Spring Qu’•y (medicine) Series development, where we hosted speakers via Zoom to speak on traditional medicines, traditional foods, and immune support.
Summer was approaching, and there was talk that our community’s beloved holiday, Makah Days, was at risk of being canceled. Our hearts went out, especially to our young Makah people who deserve opportunities to grow regardless of the circumstances. After some coordination with our Neah Bay Schools and Makah Employment and Training, we launched our first 100% online internship for Makah high school students. Our internship met three times a week, learning leadership skills based on Indigenous values and applied what we learned to tribal food sovereignty. Using the Smithsonian’s Food and Culture virtual curriculum, our interns learned about neighboring tribes and their fight to protect their traditional foods. In the end, our interns chose traditional seasonal foods they wanted to learn about and present their project at the end. Our interns shared that this was the first time they processed foods traditionally, learned family recipes, and would miss the safe virtual space we built together.
Soon after the internship wrapped up, our program received the exciting news that our partners in Yakama, Ttawaxt Birth Justice Center, chose our team as a recipient for a $200,000 three-year grant to support a Makah birth justice project. Our rural community does not have local prenatal care and have to drive 2+ hours to receive prenatal care. However, we have a long-standing history of what we now call midwifery. The first year of the program will focus on listening to our mothers’ and their families’ stories. This opportunity could not have blessed our community at any better time. Our Makah mamas are navigating birth and motherhood in a pandemic, and it is more important now than ever to wake up traditional support systems.
Finally, our community loves Halloween. After experiencing the cancelation of Makah Days, we wanted to make sure this pandemic did not cancel Halloween. With some research and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, we proposed health guidelines for a Drive-Thru Trick or Treat. We encouraged households to sign a safe house pledge by being featured on a trick-or-treating map that Makah Realty designed. From what I heard, families got to see over 100 trick-or-treaters safely—a good feeling after a long year of uncertainty and quarantine.
Keep up the great work Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center!