Understanding about type II diabetes mellitus among the Nehinaw (Cree)

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Bruyere, Jocelyn.
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Understandings about diabetes among the Nehinaw of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation of northern Manitoba are examined from an emic perspective. Diabetes is an important issue for the Nehinaw as prevalence of diabetes has doubled each decade since 1976. This investigation focuses on the role of culture and language in these perspectives. This was facilitated with use of Kleinman's Explanatory Model for the open ended interview questions. The questions used by Linda Garro, who has done extensive research among the Anishinaabeg of Manitoba, were translated into Nehinawawin (Cree language). The results indicate that the animate-inanimate concept within this language impact the understanding that Nehinaw have regarding diabetes. As well, hunter terminology plays a role in these understandings. The informants draw upon their knowledge of the life ways which existed prior to development and subsequent environmental disruptions around them. Resort to treatment is pragmatic, but also draws on previous understandings aboutIndian medicine and these vary considerably among the informants. The change from the trapping and hunting way of life witnessed by this generation of Nehinaw contribute to the understandings about causation. Diabetes is defined in a broad political perspective.