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#MLKDay

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Today, the third Monday of January, January 18th, marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day and honors the life and accomplishments of Dr. King. In the face of oppression, he never gave up in the country that he called home. The celebration of this day reminds us that the fight is not over, and we must advocate for equal rights and opportunities of all racial ethnic groups alike. MLK Day symbolizes progress and unity, for together, our actions will spark change and hope for the future. Through the history of Martin Luther King Jr., we need to realize that we have suffered through times of trials and tribulations and have emerged victorious.

On this day, I want to encourage all of you to pursue some sort of act that will honor his name safely and hygienically. Whether it be from sending a letter to your representative to petition for a new Voting Rights Act or participating in webinars like University of Michigan’s Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, I want you to help someone today.

Some examples that I took from https://bideninaugural.org/day-of-service/ are

  • creating cards for patients recovering from COVID-19
  • letter writing to seniors in nursing homes/having a conversation with the elderly
  • knitting blankets for the homeless
  • donating blood/bone marrow (especially since Black and African American patients are among the least likely to find a match for bone marrow (only a 23% chance!))

Also, please try to learn about Coretta Scott King, MLK’s wife. She was the architect of the King Legacy and founder of the King Center. To learn more about her, please visit this site!

RACIAL BIAS IN MEDICINE PT. 1 – PULSE OXIMETRY MEASUREMENT

Hello world! I have returned! I will try to revert back to my weekly Wednesday posts, but I figured this one was long overdue already. This post will not be the last time you see this topic on my blog because I feel that it should be talked about more. I, myself, am not too educated about it, so I wanted to educate myself and you guys about it.

Upon going to the doctor recently, I noticed a new medical device used on me alongside the typical sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. It was a pulse oximeter (below is a picture of it).

Sammons Preston Finger Pulse Oximeter | Performance Health
pulse oximeter

A pulse oximeter is a device that is typically clipped onto your finger to measure your oxygen saturation level. It can rapidly detect small changes in how efficiently oxygen is being carried to the extremities furthest from the heart like the legs and the arms. It uses infrared light refraction to measure how well oxygen is binding to your red blood cells. The device shines two wavelengths of light through the skin of the finger to detect the color of blood.

One of the main diagnostic criteria for COVID-19 is shortness of breath and low oxygen levels. COVID-19 enters the body through the respiratory system which causes direct injury to a person’s lungs via inflammation and pneumonia which leads to a decrease in the person’s oxygen saturation levels. Pulse oximeters are also helpful for detecting people who have “happy hypoxia” which is when the person with COVID-19 appears well but has dangerously low oxygen levels.

Because of the nature of how pulse oximeters obtain readings, they can be faulty if a person has circulatory issues with poor blood flow to the extremities (cold hands, intrinsic vascular disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon). In addition, dark colored nail polish can distort the readings. Also, the color of your skin also distorts readings. Researchers found that the device was three times more likely to give black patients false readings. Melanin which is “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people” absorbs lights in those wavelengths which causes errors within the readings.

Inaccurate oxygen level readings can also be the difference between going on necessary supplemental oxygen or not. Medicare requires you to have maximum of 88% of oxygen saturation and the test saying so or they will not cover the supplemental oxygen. So, people of color who are not getting an accurate reading because of the error of the device may not be put on lifesaving oxygen and could suffer brain cell damage due to the lower oxygen levels in their blood.

While researching, I stumbled upon some stories told by others about how the pulse oximeters had given them drastically inaccurate results. On Instagram, user @/nadirahyas said that she “literally had liquid in my diaphragm and couldn’t take a full breath, but according to the machine mhy oxygen levels were at 98%.” A normal reading is between 95-100.

Though there have been improvements to the device, there is always still work ahead. The majority of study subjects that were used were typically light skinned and that caused a skew in the data. If you are wanting to test out a new device, medically or not, remember to take into account a wide variety of people.

Sources:

https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/aug/can-an-oximeter-help-detect-covid-19-at-home/

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2029240

https://www.ktvu.com/news/widely-used-medical-device-has-higher-error-rate-in-darker-skin-study-suggest

oxford language definition of melanin

HELP SAVE THE ARCTIC REFUGE!

There are only ~4 days until oil companies will bid on destroying the arctic, harming the land of indigenous peoples (the Gwich’in) and animals (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge houses 200 species of birds).

In early December, the Trump administration announced it would auction off drilling rights in the US Arctic. By doing this, it puts an entire habitat in peril, a habitat which animals like the porcupine caribou, polar bears, and whales call home. It will also hinder the waters that Arctic animals and indigenous communities depend upon. Alaskan Natives rely on the caribou that migrate to this land, and by drilling into the land, the caribous’ route will change and leave people hungry.

Also, drilling releases tons of carbon dioxide which is terrible as it becomes poisonous when there is too much of it in the air. Moreover, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and will cause more thermal energy to be trapped by the atmosphere causing the planet to become warmer than it would be naturally. The arctic is already warming at 2 times the rate of the rest of the earth. That rate might double, or triple if we do not do anything to stop it. So, please sign the petition below!

https://www.protectthearctic.org/take-action-to-protect-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

PROTECT THE ARCTIC, SIGN THIS PETITION! IT WILL ONLY TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES AND YOUR IMPACT WILL BENEFIT THE WORLD IN THE FUTURE TO COME.

HOW CAN I HELP?

  1. SIGN THE PETITION
  2. SEND IN A HANDWRITTEN LETTER TO THIS ADDRESS: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS‒R7‒ES‒2020‒0129, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
  3. SPREAD AWARENESS USING THE HASHTAG #PROTECTTHEARCTIC

WHO IS ELIZABETH PERATROVICH?

Elizabeth Peratrovich, Who Fought for America's Earliest  Anti-Discrimination Law, to Become 1st Alaska Native Featured on U.S.  Currency | KTLA
Elizabeth Peratrovich; pic creds: KTLA

Asking you to give me equal rights implies that they are yours to give. Instead, I must demand that you stop trying to deny me the rights all people deserve.

Elizabeth Peratrovich (1911-1958)

Today’s (Wednesday, December 30) Google Doodle honors Elizabeth Peratrovich a civil rights activist who advocated and fought for equality for Native Alaskans. During the 1940s, Peratrovich and her husband, both members of the Tlingit nation, were instrumental in the passing of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 which was the first state or territorial anti-discrimination law enacted in the United States in the 20th century. As Alaskan Natives, Peratrovich and her husband encountered discrimination while trying to secure housing and trying to gain access to public facilities; at the time, it wasn’t uncommon to see door signs that read “No Natives Allowed,” and upon seeing one with her husband, they wrote a letter to Alaska’s governor and gained his support.

The Act was proposed earlier but failed to pass; however, on February 5, 1945 following years of perseverance, a second anti-discrimination bill was brought before the Alaska Senate. Both Peratrovichs, as the Presidents of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood, advocated and testified for the bill. She famously spoke in response to territorial senator Allen Shattuck, who had earlier asked “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites, with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?,”

I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.

Elizabeth Peratrovich when testifying for the Anti-Discriminatory Act of 1945

The Senate voted 11-5 in favor of the Act. The bill was signed into law in 1945, nearly 20 years before the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 making Alaska the first territory or state to end “Jim Crow.” In honor of Peratrovich’s legacy, the Alaska Legislature declared that February 16 (the day in 1945 on which the Anti-Discrimination Act was signed) as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.”

To be honest, I had no idea who was Elizabeth Peratrovich until I saw the Google Doodle for today. But, after I researched more about her, I knew I had to share this activist who was a catalyst for equality! If you want to learn more about her and her legacy, I would recommend checking out today’s Google Doodle and some of the other sites that I will be linking down below!

https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-elizabeth-peratrovich

Also, I am sorry that I have been slacking with posts recently. I will be coming out of my hiatus soon and reverting back to my regular Wednesday posts! I have been caught up with applications and finals, but they will soon be over. I have many ideas for more posts, so please look forward to them!

Things That Native People Invented

Hello world! Sorry for the late post, but hopefully this longer post will make up for it.

There are tens of hundreds of inventions that we use everyday. These things are so fundamental to our daily routine that we never stop to think of their origins. Some of these useful everyday things were actually invented by Native American people.

  1. Cable Suspension Bridges
Q'eswachaka Inca Bridge: The 500-year-old tradition is still alive.
Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge; pic creds: Inkayni Peru Tours

Rope suspension bridges have a long history of use within the Americas, most notably with The Inca people. They had originally weaved mountain grasses and other vegetation into cables—which could be as thick as a human body—to build strong suspension bridges that spanned across gorges. One of these bridges is still standing in Peru’s Canas Province and is pictured above. Today’s modern steel suspension bridges draw on the Inca design as the model.

2. Aspirin

The salix nigra willow tree’s bark was used by many different native tribes for particular ailments. Native Americans recognized the many useful medicinal and technological qualities of the willow tree. The inner bark and leaves of many willows contains the medicinal extract, salicin, or salicylic acid which is an active ingredient in common aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). The Native Americans would chew or boil a tea from the willow’s leaves or inner bark to relieve fever or minor pains like toothaches, headaches, etc. This is why the willow was given the nickname “toothache tree.”

Though the Native Americans technically were not the first ones to discover this, I would like to emphasize how important traditional medicine is and how it has impacts modern medicine. In ethnobotanist and explorer of the Amazon Mark Plotkin’s talk, he discussed the significance of indigenous medicine and how things like deforestation and the rubber trade put the uncontacted tribes and their knowledge in danger. Within the Amazon Rainforest is thousands of plants and animals that are used to treat people. The venom from the Brazilian pit viper is the source of one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for hypertension, captopril. And yet, this area is getting ripped apart and chopped down. The Brazilians did not get a nickel from this.

Take a moment to reflect on yourself: what do you think of when you think of indigenous tribes? Are they people who have their own culture and knowledge, like the Akuriyos who have 35 words for honey? Or are they seen as primitive because they “didn’t know how to make fire”? These tribes are dying out, and with them the cultures that once danced, prayed to the gods, hunted for food. All that is left is an imprint in stone, and sometimes nothing more. Plotkin emphasizes that isolated tribes should be left alone, left to flourish. There is no need for us to change the way in which they live. There is a business called human safaris in which they take you to the isolated groups to take their picture and give them goods and tools, and subsequently, diseases. There is no reason for this infringement on to these people.

3. Kayaks

http://intellectuelbouffon.lemultiblog.com/fichiers/intellectuelbouffon/images/ kayak-inuit-gd.jpg | Kayaking, Sea kayaking, Canoe and kayak

The first kayaks were made by the kayaks from natural materials such as wood, whalebone, and sealskin. They were the main method used to travel for many coastal tribes and benefited from their small size which contrasted the large European ships. Also because of their small size, they could navigate choppy rivers and narrow canals.

4. Snow Goggles

First Sunglasses Were Used 2,000 Years Ago By Iniuts
Snow goggles; pic cres: themindcircle

Carved from wood, bone, or seal ivory, the goggles were invented by the Inuit people and allowed a limited line of sight to come in through slits which minimized the harm done to the eyes by UV rays and prevented snow blindness (photokeratitis) when outdoors. These goggles were the precursor to today’s snow and sunglasses.

#MentalHealthCheck

Global mental health in the time of COVID-19 - Harvard Health Blog -  Harvard Health Publishing
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hello World! I know that I had said that I was going to post regularly for Native American Heritage Month, but life got in the way, and I needed to step away from this blog for the sake of my well being. I hope you guys understand! Of course I will try to finish the rest of the posts, but they will be more sporadic as school consumes my life.

This past week was Thanksgiving, and I know how emotionally complicated this holiday can be for people. So, I wanted to come on here and say everything you are feeling at this time is valid and that you are loved. Difficult thoughts and feelings are part of being human and do not take away from your value. No one is perfect. You should not feel pressured to be perfect. What’s important is you! You are a living, breathing human that has traits that make you unique and should be embraced! You are important. You matter. Thank you for being you!

Below, I have listed some ways you can practice self-care during this time!

  1. Step outside for some fresh air!
  2. Listen to a song that makes you smile! One of my favorite songs is Renee by SALES.
  3. Check in with yourself! Ask yourself how are you feeling, what do you need, and reflect on yourself
  4. Put yourself first
  5. Cut off any toxic relationships
  6. Say no to the things you don’t want to do
  7. Ask for help
  8. Do something that you enjoy! What makes you happy?

Here’s a little frog tiktok that might make you smile 🙂

@tootymcnooty

Here are some Phrogs to make your day better! Some of the backgrounds are done by the amazing @copicmechanism 🎺🐸💕

♬ Renee – Sales

MARIA TALLCHIEF

Maria Tallchief | American dancer | Britannica
Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief (1925-2013)

Above all, I wanted to be appreciated as a prima ballerina who happened to be a Native American, never as someone who was an American Indian ballerina

Maria Tallchief

Born in Fairfax, Oklahoma on an Osage Indian reservation, Maria Tallchief (born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief) and her sister, Marjorie, began dancing as children and both would later find themselves dancing on stage. As her career began, many tried to persuade Tallchief to change her last name so that dance companies would not discriminate against her. Tallchief refused. Maria Tallchief’s life was permanently changed in 1948 when she became not only the first prima ballerina of Native American heritage of the New York City Ballet, but the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet. Tallchief’s role as the Sugarplum Fairy is also credited as one of the reasons that The Nutcracker is one of the most famous in the world. She helped break down ethnic barriers in the world of dance and was one of the first American ballet stars in a field long dominated by Russian and European dancers.

About the Quote

Maria Tallchief said that no matter where she performed, she wanted to be judged on the merits of her dancing alone. She believed that one should identify themselves by what they love rather than society’s preconceived notions.

Also, I wanted to include this google doodle which has more information about Tallchief coming from her family and other indigenous artists.

https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-maria-tallchief

HOW TO HONOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES THIS THANKSGIVING

Today is Thanksgiving. I hope all of you can celebrate with your family whether it be virtually or in person. Reminder: the virus does not stop just because it’s a holiday! This holiday can be emotionally complex as it is a day of mourning for Indigenous and First Nation Folks. Here are some ways we can honor Indigenous folks, disrupt erasure and tokenization, interrupt false narratives and move towards reparations.

  1. Decolonize your historical lens. Check out my last blog post or do your own research about the real history of Thanksgiving and the Wampanoag tribe
  2. Support Indigenous Business and Buy Indigenous Goods
  3. Verbally acknowledge the land you are on and which tribe inhabits it
  4. Raise awareness of the current disenfranchisement and racism facing Indigenous peoples to family and friends who may not be educated on the subject

If you want to check out some Indigenous artisans and artists, please check out @kinsalehues on Instagram! Her insta highlights have plenty of resources to support artists and her community. I have linked her account down below.

https://www.instagram.com/kinsalehues/

THE HISTORY OF THANKSGIVING

Growing up, one is always taught about the First Thanksgiving as a celebratory feast that the Native Americans welcomed the Pilgrims to. After this, the pilgrims hand off America to white people so they can create a great nation dedicated to liberty, opportunity and Christianity for the rest of the world to profit. However, this story is riddled with historical inaccuracies.

The Native Americans that the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth met with were the Wampanoags. The pilgrims landed in 1620 and the chief (sachem) Ousamequin offered them an entente—a friendly understanding or informal alliance—as a way to protect the Wampanoags against their rivals, the Narragansetts. This was not because he wanted to be friends; he and his people had been decimated by an epidemic disease and the English would be able to help him fend off his tribal rebels.

Moreover, the arrival of the Mayflower is not the first instance of the Wampanoags coming into contact with Europeans. Prior, they had been in contact with Europeans, but not in a friendly way. This history involves slave raiding and violence.

The result of telling and retelling the false origin of Thanksgiving is deeply harmful to the Wampanoag Indians whose lives and society were forever damaged after the English arrived in Plymouth. Some adults have said that they remember sitting in school during Thanksgiving and feeling invisible. Not only their classes, but society in general was making light of the historical trauma which weighs around their neck. The traditional narrative paints a deceptively sunny portrait of relationships between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag people, concealing the long and bloody history of conflict between the Native Americans and European settlers.

For more information about the first Thanksgiving, please check out this article! In it, David Silverman discusses his book This Land is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.