In this presentation, Dr. Lawrence Schell talks about how globally, aboriginal populations have been in great decline, demographically and culturally. American Indians continue to be the poorest and the least healthy population within the borders of the United States. They are the most severe victims of health disparities in the US. Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/). Health disparities result from multiple factors, including poverty, environmental threats, inadequate access to health care, individual and behavioral factors, educational inequalities, higher rates of cancers and diabetes. There are many health risk behaviors that are more common among American Indians and Alaskan Natives also. Since 2001, in comparison to other racial/ethnic groups, they have had the largest or next largest percentage of 18 year olds without a doctor visit. In addition, some face the additional problem of an environment polluted by industries. In our study of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation who are impacted by nearby pollution with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), we saw that sexual maturation was earlier in girls in relation to their PCB level, and testosterone levels in adolescent boys were lower in relation to theirs. Thyroid hormone levels were altered also. Among adult women the risk of not ovulating was related to their level of PCBs. These are especially difficult effects considering that the survival of the culture and the people are a primary concern of the Akwesasne Mohawk people and of many American Indian and Alaskan Native groups.
Schell, Lawrence M., "Minority Health Disparities: The case of the American Indians" (2017). Campus Conversations in Standish. 5.