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Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness: Speakers

This guide contains event information and resources related to the Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness exhibit.

Gene Thin Elk is a Sicangu, Cokan-Towela Band, Lakota and enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. He is the former Director of Native Student Services at the University of South Dakota and is the originator of the Red Road Approach — a culturally-based, therapeutic recovery and wellness model based upon Lakota, Dakota and Nakota indigenous cultural life ways and teachings. During the past three decades, Thin Elk has utilized the Red Road Approach in his services consultations, healing and cultural training work with numerous Native Tribal Nations, Corporations, Rancherias and Pueblos, and has advised and consulted with major universities, banks, hospital, and corporations as well as with the United States Army Psychiatric Hospital and Sanford Health’s Health Disparities Research Center. His work has garnered national recognition including Time Magazine’s Top 100 People of the Year, Newsweek’s New American Heroes and as a Who’s Who in Business World Wide. In 2012, Gene’s work was acknowledged with the Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr. Award presented by Pathways Into Health at the 2012 Achieving Excellence, Harmony, and Balance Conference.

Gary W. (Maajiiange) Cheeseman, Ed.D., is Anishinaabe, Abenaki, Mic Mac and Lakota (having been adopted into the Lakota culture 30 years ago). He is the son of Peter Kinew  (Tobasaanaakwat), former Canadian Treaty Three Chief and Indigenous advisor to former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He is the father of 3 biological children, 5 grandchildren, 3 adopted children, 26 spiritually adopted children, many spiritually adopted grandchildren, and 45 foster children. He is currently an Associate Professor of Education at the University of South Dakota and has been involved in the teaching and training of teachers, the practice of culturally appropriate pedagogical methodologies and content, and the cultivation of understanding around social justice issues in education and American Indian intellectual thought for over 30 years. He is the curator and founder of The American Indian Storytelling and Critical Pedagogy Resource Center and sustains lines of research in the areas of cultural preservation focusing on the art and science of storytelling across cultures and diverse and critical pedagogies as they pertain to social equality and “Indigenous Cosmologies.”

Damon P. Leader Charge, is a Sicangu Oglala Lakota and enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. He is currently the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Native American Healthcare Scholars Program based at the University of South Dakota’s Sanford School of Medicine and also serves as a South Dakota Native American Curriculum Consultant with the National American Indian & Alaska Native Addiction Technology Transfer Center (SAMHSA). He has previously served as the Director of Health Administration for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and as a Lakota Cultural Consultant for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Juvenile Corrections Services.

Beth Boyd, Ph.D., is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians and a Full Professor in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at the University of South Dakota.  She directs the USD Clinical Psychology Program and is a member of the Disaster Mental Health Institute.  Dr. Boyd has responded to numerous disasters, working with the American Red Cross, SAMHSA, the Indian Health Service, and the DMHI.  Dr. Boyd has been active in professional service. She is a Past President of the American Psychological Association Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race (Division 45), and the Society for the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities (Division 12, Section VI), and served on the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, the Presidential Task Force on PTSD and Trauma in Children and Adolescents, the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention & Training, and the Minority Fellowship Program Training Advisory Committee. Dr. Boyd has authored or co-authored a number of articles and chapters on issues of diversity and social justice, particularly in the context of disaster.

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