National Public Radio aired a really nice piece yesterday about a fitness program developed by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of northern Idaho that focusses on traditional American Indian dance. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the program uses exercise classes and a series of fitness videos based on powwow dances to get tribal members moving.
Featuring both men’s and women’s dances, the “Powwow Sweat” videos have engaging whimsical touches and interlace dancers in standard workout clothes and those in traditional dress. Similar exercise classes are also offered at the Tribe’s wellness center.
As reported in the piece, the traditional, cultural approaches of the program may help it reach and engage people to a greater degree than one solely based on physical activity alone.
“It’s this combination of tradition and exercise that keeps tribal member Ryan Ortivez and his neighbors coming to class each week, to watch the videos and dance alongside each other.
‘It’s a lot more attractive than doing jogging or the bicycle for me, because it also relates to my culture,’ says Ortivez.”
This kind of tailored approach and support is key to improving health behaviors in all populations. We respond to messages that resonate with us, and that are supported within our broader communities. “Powwow Sweat” is a great example of a program working to do just that.
It is also of particular interest to us as we’ve had the opportunity to partner with the Buder Center for American Indian Studies at Washington University on health outreach. And we’ve recently tailor two of our 8 Ways to Prevent Cancer series titles to American Indian and Alaska Native populations (Breast Cancer & Colon Cancer), each of which was distributed at the Center’s 27th Annual Powwow this past March.