Furthering Our Knowledge as Pikunii People

Shawntyana Bullshoe, Sierra Mason, Betty Henderson-Matthews, Blackfeet Community College 508 South East Boundary P.O Box 819 Browning, Mt 59417

Native Americans make up 2.09% of the population of the United States. As a people, we are suffering from disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases. Since 1650 our people have been exposed to high stress situations, resulting in intergenerational trauma. Intergenerational trauma contributes mental illness, substance abuse disorters, anxiety, depression and even suicide. High levels of stress affects our spiritual ties, culture and our traditions.  Past research by Blackfeet Community College found that people who experienced high levels of trauma, who are connected to the community, have lower levels of immune system inflammation, compared to individuals with similar levels of trauma, who report less of a connection to their community. Thus, connection to the community may promote positive health for the Blackfeet people. Our research team decided to extend this work by considering whether fostering connection to the community would reduce stress, anxiety and biomarkers of stress. We designed an intervention where we took community members through our land, and shared cultural stories. Twenty-four participants participated in this intervention over 2 weeks.  Participants provided blood and saliva samples at baseline for measurement of inflammation and cortisol. This was followed by three days of storytelling from our elders followed by another blood and saliva sample. Finally, over three days, we took participants hiking to the places we knew were sacred to the Blackfeet. After this three day period, we once again collected blood and saliva to measure changes in inflammation and cortisol. We also measured changes in stress and anxiety. We expect that the experience of hiking in sacred places and hearing stories from our elders will reduce stress, anxiety, cortisol and inflammation over time. This work will contribute to our understanding of how stronger connections to the community may contribute to better health for the Blackfeet people.   


Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: ShawnTyana Bullshoe , Sierra Mason

Institution: Montana Community Colleges

Type: Poster

Subject: Biology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 2
Date/Time: Mon 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 2605