Global Health Field School

Bad River Indian Reservation

Traditional Health is more than Tradition

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The focus of the 2011 field course was "Visualizing Global Health in a Cultural Context". At the Bad River Indian Reservation, physical health is intricately linked to cultural health. Tribal members frequently point to the benefits of traditional diets like walleye and wild rice but also the relationships between spiritual fulfillment and improved bodily funcitons.

Students at this year's field course were native and non-native UW students. Several of the students were also Bad River tribal members and were experiencing areas of the reservation they had never seen before. All of the students were impressed with the participating scientists and elders from the community.

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Six students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison spent a week at the Bad River Indian Reservation in northern Wisconsin to discover and inquire about health issues in and around the tribal community. Students from the Madison area spent the nights at the Bad River Lodge and Convention Center. Each day, students and instructors ventured into the community and learned about a relevant topic from a respected community member. Much of the focus was on the fears assoicated with a giant mine proposal near the reservation and its threats to resources such as Wild Rice.

The students also helped improve a local youth center by repairing an old beaver lodge play area. When they could, the students of the field course were also expected to assist with the ongoing tribal youth media program. It was a fulfilling and thought provoking week!


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"It is amazing that the Ojibwe can feel such emotional attachment to their past relatives and their traditions. It makes me jealous, because I wish I could have that strong of a connection with my past and traditions..."

Global Health Field Course participant