Edward K. Thomas, former Tlingit Haida Central Council president, recently accepted a speaking engagement to present a tribal perspective on health care issues of Native Americans at the International Network for Indigenous Knowledge and Health Development Conference held Oct. 15-18 in Rotorua, New Zealand.
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The title of Former President Thomas' presentation was "Healthcare Challenges for New Generations." This title was chosen because he was put into a categorical theme for the third day of the conference which was New Generations. He was given the opportunity to introduce our Tlingit and Haida homelands and talk a bit on our culture.
The main focus of Thomas' presentation was to talk about the devastating effects that the diabetes epidemic is having on Native communities and the future challenges of securing adequate funding to effectively address the future healthcare needs of our people.
Thomas was very impressed with the honorable way in which the Maori people welcomed representatives from the various countries in a very traditional way. He states, "It was truly an honor to be part of this impressive ceremony and also to speak on behalf of American tribal issues at this important international conference. I am very grateful to the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute of the University of Washington for making this trip possible. It is an experience I will always remember."