SF Bay Area Indymedia indymedia
About Contact Subscribe Calendar Publish Print Donate

California | San Francisco | U.S. | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Racial Justice

American Indians Return to Alcatraz
by Pete Verral
Wednesday Oct 30th, 2013 11:51 AM
American Indians participated in the annual PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week (October 6-14) in San Francisco and Bay Area locales. The week's events launched the second decade of the program that encourages healthy eating and a stay-active lifestyle among American Indian and Alaska Natives, who have the highest rates of diabetes of any race or ethnicity in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association.
American Indians Return to Alcatraz
Week-long Program Inspires Healthy Eating/Stay-Active Lifestyle
to Combat Diabetes and Related Diseases

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- American Indian health activists from South Dakota, Wisconsin, Washington and California participated in the 11th annual PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week (October 6th to 14th) in San Francisco and Bay Area locales. The week’s events, which launched the program’s second decade, concluded with the frigid swim from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore.

The Natives had just six days to train. Seasoned triathletes regard the crossing a daunting challenge. One or two veteran open water swimmers ("swim angels") from the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco accompanied each Native swimmer.

The swim week is a component of PATHSTAR's (http://www.pathstar.org) year-round program to encourage healthy eating and a stay-active lifestyle among American Indian and Alaska Natives, who have the highest rates of diabetes of any race or ethnicity in the U.S., according to the American Diabetes Association.

Prior to the Alcatraz to San Francisco swim, the Natives were immersed in a week of healthy nutrition and fitness activities. They engaged in communal living, including shopping for and preparing meals with organically grown vegetables. Activities ranged from visits to an urban community garden, farmer’s market and San Francisco Bay Area farm, to meetings with lifestyle coaches, yoga and Pilates sessions and a kayak/paddleboard outing.

Swim week participants make a year-long commitment as ambassadors for healthy change, sharing their experience with their family and community. Participants have returned home to develop community and school vegetable gardens, coach high school and community sports, work on anti-obesity initiatives and fitness and diabetes prevention programs.

Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were the first to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week. Their message, “Oyate kin nipi kte: So that the people will live,” strongly resonates with all Native participants.

###



§
by Pete Verral Wednesday Oct 30th, 2013 11:51 AM

Nellenda Rublico (Cherokee), San Jose, CA;  PATHSTAR Director Nancy Iverson, San Francisco, CA; and kayak pilot Jeffrey Nothelphim, (Lakota Sioux), Pine Ridge, SD; on their way from Alcatraz Island to the South End Rowing Club, San Francisco.
Photo: Colin Gift
§
by Pete Verral Wednesday Oct 30th, 2013 11:51 AM

PATHSTAR support swimmer Mary White and Colville Confederated Tribes, WA;  member, Theresa Bessette (black swimsuit/redstripes) Omak, WA; jump into the frigid San Francisco Bay to start their swim from Alcatraz Island to the South End Rowing Club, San Francisco.
Photo: Colin Gift
§
by Pete Verral Wednesday Oct 30th, 2013 11:51 AM

SwimmersCelebrate.jpg
American Indians and PATHSTAR support swimmers celebrate their arrival in Aquatic Park, San Francisco, following a swim from Alcatraz Island.
Photo: Colin Gift