Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Health
Series: Bad River Band suffers from very high rate of diabetes


"Helen “Frannie” Shinaway carefully spritzes hair gel into her tidy black mullet. She'd already squeezed on her jeans, tucked in a salmon pink T-shirt and put on a gold necklace and earrings specially reserved for this event: Thursday night darts. But tonight she’ll be going alone.

It's been more than a decade since Shinaway and her husband Archie started playing in the bar darts league, a local tradition bringing together people around Ashland, Wis. The area includes nearby Odanah, the town center of the Bad River Indian Reservation, a sprawling wilderness along Lake Superior that is home to about 1,500 members of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Shinaway’s tribe.

Archie, who has had type 2 diabetes for 25 years, has been unable to participate in the darts league since three years ago, when he began energy-draining kidney dialysis three times a week.

Overall, the statistics for surviving diabetes in Indian Country are bleak. American Indian and Alaska Native diabetics like Archie are three-and-a-half times more likely to experience diabetic-related kidney failure than the general population.

Bad River is among the top third areas in Indian country with the highest prevalence of diabetes. More than half of the reservation’s population either has the disease or is showing early signs of it. As nurse practitioner Mike Murphy put it, “Everybody out here knows somebody with diabetes.”"

Get the Story:
Slow Death at Bad River: Diabetes in Indian Country (New America Media 6/25)

Related Stories:
Indian Country takes aim at alarming rate of Type 2 diabetes (6/24)