BSU Hosts Inaugural Indigenous Nursing Conference
“I’m looking forward to everything that we’re going to see. We’re going to learn a lot from everyone so it’s going to be a great conference,” says Tuesday Rose, a nursing student at Bemidji State University who is a part of the Niganawenimaanaanig program.
There are many ways to look at healing, and the Native American community has many different way to help those in need. Over 60 students, nurses, doctors and other health professionals are at Bemidji State University this week, participating in the inaugural Indigenous Nursing Conference.
“Being a nurse for as long as I have been for a number – probably about 30 years now, the cultural piece, the spiritual piece all seems to be, I shouldn’t say missing, but maybe lacking a little bit or we can improve on it,” says Mary Ann Cook, the director of nursing at Red Lake Hospital.
The conference was hosted by the Niganaweinimaanaanig program at BSU. More than ten professionals gave a presentation over the two-day conference. Topics ranged from the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers to organ donation, diabetes, and addressing self worth.
“It’s nice to be reminded that traditions can always be a part of the healing process with health, and so I was able to share that too with the topic that I had on sharing culture and history and ceremonies and being able to kind of balance out both worlds traditionally with modern medicine and traditional medicine,” says Taylor Susan, a presenter at the conference and Miss Indian World 2018-2019.
“I really liked Miss Indian World’s presentation right away. I really liked what she had to say about leadership and about her culture and how she kind of grew up and what she had to go through in Arizona because that’s different from Minnesota,” says Allisyn Ronning, a nursing student at BSU who is also apart of the Niganawenimaanaanig program.
With so many leaders in one room, it also provides an added opportunity to network and learn from one another.
“The cultural diversity that just here, you know, is amazing. We’ve got people from different walks of life, different backgrounds and coming together and learning about Indigenous people,” says Cook.
For some of the attendees, this was their first time ever attending a conference of this magnitude. Leaders say they hopes the students retain all the information they can.
“Those of us that are practicing nurses, we certainly want to share our experiences and some of what are studies have been but what’s beautiful is to be able to see the students cam back and contribute to the nursing practice with their knowledge,” says Sandra Littlejohn, the president of the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association.
Organizers of the conference say it may return to BSU in the future on a bi-annual basis.