Pine Ridge, South Dakota
15 years old
Student at Loneman School, Oglala, South Dakota
I’d like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week because I love swimming, and it will be fun, and I can’t wait. I’d like to be better and stronger at swimming, to help kids learn how to swim, and to be stronger. I’d like to have a great time and I’d like to go back and go again and ask a friend or family member to come. I’d like to help kids live a healthier life style and eat healthy on the rez. I’ll tell them when I start and when I finish:
Start great. Keep it great. And finish strong.
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
52 years old
Child Advocate, Oglala Lakota Casa
I would like to participate in the Alcatraz Swim because of the awareness of health and the focus on wellness. I was proud that Richard Iron Cloud participated in 2003 and was excited about that event and have wanted to participate if given the chance.
I would like to learn more about PATHSTAR and its programs and incorporate it into my, my family’s and my friends’ lifeways, and to be able to share it with my community.
We, as a team, are committed to acknowledging the path of a week of information, living in a healthy way, and enriching wellness to our self.
My three goals are finishing the swim, making the week and doing all the learning beneficial to our mind and body, and leaving with our new outlook, plan and cleaner path to our goal lifeway.
Oglala, South Dakota
47 years old
Family Support Specialist, Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiypi
As a fourteen year old, I had the opportunity to experience the Longest Walk back in 1978 and truly enjoyed this once in a life experience. While I was on the Longest Walk, I would sit and listen to the elders (my elders being so young at this time) talk of how someone on the Longest Walk had come through a vision that was had on Alcatraz Island. At that time in my life, I told myself that one of these days I wanted to visit this island so that I too could experience the serenity and connection they say comes to Native American people while on this island.
I would also like to experience and pariticpate in the conditioning of one’s mind, body, and soul, and I feel that my Lakota heritage puts me in touch with water, which is the gift of life and which is sacred to the Lakota people. As a sundancer, I have a strong desire to go to Alcatraz and would also like to learn more about the teachings of growing organic foods, eating healthy meals/diets, and exercise. This trip would truly benefit me in fulfilling a lifelong dream but would also help in improving my health and in maintaining physical, mental, and emotional fitness.
As a child protection worker, there is very little time, if any, to process the traumatic events that unfold with families, to relieve stress in a healthy manner, or to just take the opportunity to have some time to process my duties and let go without feeling guilty or hurt. I am quite confident in my decisions but there are times when the hurt I see in the children’s eyes or their families’ faces can be overwhelming and I feel that this is an opportunity and event that can help me do some self healing while working on inidvidual weakness.
El Cerrito, California
44 years old
Retail sales, Gathering Tribes
My name is Chrystal White Eyes. I’m originally from Pine Ridge, South Dakota; I now live in the Bay area. I would like to participate in this year’s Alcatraz swim because my brother suffers from diabetes and my mom was diagnosed this year. I feel this is a great event to be a part of and would like to share what I learn and achieve with my family and community.
I participated last year and enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experiences with my family, community, and other tribes. Diabetes is a never-ending battle, and I believe PATHSTAR is a valuable program to help with Native American Diabetes Awareness and Prevention.
Last year’s week-long training was very intense, and I have learned how to eat healthier and make healthier choices when shopping. I now attend farmers’ markets and shop at our local grocery store instead of the chain stores which offer a lot of high fructose corn syrup items. I try to stay active by walking, swimming, exercising, and cutting down on the salt. I also gave up sodas.
My main focus on helping with prevention and awareness of Native American diabetes is the next generations. I want to make an impact on thier choices of a healtheir lifestyle. Being a part of this year’s swim will help me to become an inspiration to my children and grandchildren, to help them develop a healthier lifestyle and to make a difference for their lives.
19 years old
Student at Ketchikan High School
My name is Anitamarie Pechay-Seludo. i was born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska. I’m 19 years old and recently found out I was diagnosed as a pre-diabetic with an A1C of 6.1. I’ve never really thought about how it could effect me until my own mother told me her A1C is 6.5 and she’s a Type II diabetic. I’m not too far from there, which scares me. It definitely made me realize I have to change my eating habits and start making healhtier choices as a young adult.
When I heard about the Alcatraz Swim it was definitely a big chllenge that would push me to another level of success, not for just myself but for my family also. This will challenge me and motivate me into staying in shape and to keep living a healthier lifestyle. Attending to this challenge would make me not just a better person but also motivate me down a better positive path and achieve my goals and motivate teens and adults around my community.
Three goals that I would like to achieve during the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week:
1) Eat healthier with a positive attitude.
2) Stay active with a positive attitude.
3) Send a message to teens and young adults and motivate and say, “Anything can be done if what to to change for the better.”
36 years old
Ketchican Indian Clinic, diabetes team worker
My name is Ruth E. Pechay. I am 3/4 Tlingit and 1/4 Haida. I was born in Ketchikan, Alaska. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes in 1999 with my second child. In 2000 I had developed Type II diabetes. I have been watching what I have been eating and exercising every so often. My highest A1C was 7.3; I brought my A1C to 6.5. I have the worst sweet tooth. You would say my addiction is carbs and sugar. It has been a roller coaster with my weight. Both of my older children, 18 and 12, have developed pre-diabetes with A1C’s of 6.1. My youngest daughter is 2 years old. I worry about the health and well-being of my children.
I’d like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim Week because it sould be a lifetime experience, not only for myself but also for my daughter AnitaMaire. My joiurney to Alcatraz would help our Native community better their health. I want to be a role model for my children, family, friends and community and to help them know that diabetes can be prevented.
During this week I’d like to learn more about eating healhty and self-motivation towards exercising. The life style I’d like to bring home includes eating healhty and exercising regularly.
After conquering the Alcatraz swim and learning a new life style, I want to share what I have learned with my family, friends, and community. I’d like to show them, if I can DO IT, they can DO IT! Anyone can wake up and decide to make their lives better.
Our team commitment is to help prevent diabetes–to encourage our younger generation and Elders to be motivated, get out there, go for walks, and enjoy eathing healthy.
My three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTAR program are:
1) I will do the best I can to eat healthy.
2) I will be strong for my children when it comes to eating healthy and exercising.
3) I will spread the word that health an exercising is the way to go to fight
Ketchikan Tribal Affiliation
61 years old
Clinical Supervisor/Medical Social Work, Ketchikan Indian Tribal Health Clinic and Diabetes Team
I would like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim because I was inspired by the program and was thinking about how I can challenge myself to get serious about my diabetes. Although I am 61 and in good health, I do need to stay motivated to remain healhty. I have managed my diabetes for about 4 years without medications, with diet and exercise, but on more than one occasion lost that motivation. I want this experience to not only motivate but to influence my continued commitment for self care. While I never seriously considered swimming in the SF Bay, I believe I can do this and influence and motivate family, friends, coworkers and patients.
During this week I’d like to learn more about myself, to take the time to consider my health and what is required to do so. Also, I want to learn more about commitment and motivation to change behavior such as lifestyle and nutrition.
I would like to bring the experience back home to apply in my own life on a continuing basis, for self motivation, and to motivate others in my role as medical social worker for our Ketchikan Indian Tribal Helaht clinic and the diabetes team. Finally, I would like to challenge my own family members who have diabetes and for those who do not to maintain their health.
I would say that our team is committed. Two of us are on our diabetes team and we have recently re-engaged and re-energized the health clinic’s and Tribe’s commitment to better health. We will be ambassadors not only for PAHTSTAR but for our Ketchikan Indian Community.
We would like to bring home what we learn in this experience, both for the diabetes team and for our community. Three goals I will commit to are:
1) Maintain my own health.
2) Be an inspiration to others.
3) Apply what I learn to our Ketchikan Indian community Tribal Health Clinic.
Colville Confederated Tribes
30 years old
Physical Activities Lifestyle Sepcialist, Colville Tribes Prevention Program
I’d like to participate in the PATHSTAR Alcatraz swim for several reasons. The primary reason is because I felt the sincerity in each past participant’s voice when they described how empowering the experience was for them. Several of them talked about how it not only made them stronger as an individual, but it enabled them to help others who were struggling in their own lives.
During the week, I’d like to learn more about all of the other participants: their personalities, role in their community, likes/dislikes, and their goals for the week. I’d also like to learn about healhty foods/drinks that can be brought back to share with my community, family, and friends.
The learning I’d like to bring back home to apply in my own life is about the safety procedures for swimming. I have never felt that I am a strong swimmer and would like to learn how to safely and effectifly learn how to do the front crawl with proper breathing technique. I also have a fear of large open waters, so completing the Alcatraz Swim will help me to covercome my own fears. I was raised on my reservation, and the only time I left for a long period of time was to attend college at the nearest university, 2.5 hours away. Even then, I would come home almost every weekend to be near family and friends. Taking part in activities so far from home and in a huge city will help me to build confidence in my ability to be comforable away from the reservation.
The learning I’d like to bring back to share with my family and community is how empowering overcoming your fears can be and how it can transfer into different areas of your life even if they seem unrelated. For instance, many people sturggling with diseases such as alcoholism, depression, diabetes and drug addiction feel a loss of control in their lives, but by completing the PATHSTAR Alcatraz Swim they would realize how they can regain control and live a healthy lifestyle.
Our team in committed to this expeireince and during the year following Alcatraz Swim Week we will spread the experience we had by speaking about it at community events. We work for our Tribes’ Diabetes Prevention Program and host regular community luncheons to hlep our community understand the importance of eating helahty and exercising. This would be an optimal time to encourage others to participate in the program.
Three goals I will commit to in participating in the PATHSTR protram are: completing the swim, learning new recipes/exercises to bring back to my community, and getting to know all participants.
Colville Confederated Tribes
49 years old
Physical Activities Lifestyle Specialist, Colville Tribes Diabetes Prevention Program
I became interested in the Alcatraz swim after listening to a presentation at the Diabetes Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I thought the whole idea would be an awesome achievement for all individuals who choose to participate.
I am currently working for the Diabetes Prevention Program for the Colville Confederated Tribes. Part of my job is to motivate lifestyle change. We offer 16 week classes for individuals to learn about nutrition and exercise and how they affect their health. I, unfortunately, have Type II diabetes. Since joining the DPP team, I have made the commitment to become healthier. Since June of 2010 I have lost nearly 60 pounds of extra weight. I have chosen to eliminate deli food, cut down on snacking at work, and exercise more.
I am very active in our community. My family hosts a family oriented softball tournament every year. We have an average of 18 family teams participating. I also enjoy coaching middle school girls’ basketball and softball. I have coached high school girs’ volleyball and fast pitch softball. I also act as activities director at family gatherings. Our kids get to run around and exercise without knowing they are exercising. I am an active beader. I am currently working on the beadowrk for my daughter’s Fancy Dance outfit. I enjoy sewing and making and teaching strip quilting. I usually host a ‘Stitch and Bitch’ weekend, and community members come together for a weekend of sewing, beading, crocheting, scrapbooking, or whatever hobby they choose.
As you see, I am very community oriented. I believe that I would be a great representative for PATHSTAR and the message it offers.
Cheyenne, Arikara, Creek
19 years old
Student at Heald College, Hayward, CA (medical assistant)
When you think of the Alcatraz swim any average person would think sharks, freezing water, and those swimmers are out of their mind! I found out about the swim through Chrystal White Eyes, and, from what she was describing to me, I didn’t have any of those thoughts. To participate in the swim I would be able to say I did something that many others haven’t even thought of, or had the opportunity to do. She also told me the swim was to raise awareness about diabetes and unhealthy eating. My immediate family all have diabetes, and, luckily, I don’t. I fele it, in a way, skipped me because of my healthy eating and active lifestyle. From watching the film and doing some research on my own it is a big problem within the Native American community. Anything I can do to bring awareness to the Native American community, not only in the bay area but all over, would be the greatest accomplishment any one can have.
During the week prior to the swim something I would like to learn is nutrtition and self obedience. Nutrition plays a big factor in a healthy lifestyle; exercise alone won’t get you there. With my active lifestyle– playing softball, volleyball, swimming and running– you can never learn too much about nutrition to stay healthy. I help coach my old high school’s volleyball team; by learning new things about nutrition I’d be able to pass information along to the 15 young women on the team. From the time that I have them all the young ladies know it’s nothing but water and fruit from what the school provides. By giving them the information I learned I know they will put it to use and continue passing it along to their family like a domino effect. Self obedience is the main factor to any athlete; to be able to go and jump in the bay takes a lot of it. To be self obedient means not letting yourself give up no matter how hard something is. This is something everyone can always improve on, even me. With learning more self obedience I feel I can teach other people that you cannot let any little factor get in your way from what you believe in or what you want to do. Some things I would like to bring back to pass along to my community. friends family, etc. would be self confidence, things to stay healthy, and team work.
I am very involvued within my community; you can always see my face at any community event, manning a table, passing out flyers, anything– I’m there! By working in the community you meet a lot of new and regular faces at different events, and that is the perfect time to inform others about living a healthy lifestyle. By telling people, “Hey, I swam Alcatraz,” I can’t think of a more perfect opening statement to pass along what I learned from that. Any one is going to stop to hear what I have to say after hearing that.
Dedication is somthing I’m all about; when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. When working with others it is very important to have great teamwork, especially in circumstances where you’re with strangers for a whole week. An open mind is my main goal. When learning new things you can’t keep a closed mind or else you won’t process any of it, and you basically wasted that person’s time.
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
61 years old
Director, Economic Development Administration
On a reservation, we have health problems. A lot of it has to do with inactivity or not eating the right foods. So I want to promote awareness. One of my projects that I promote at home is community gardens and family gardens so people will learn the value of healthy food and have a stake in their own garden and grow their own foods—-that is to grow fruits and vegetables without pesticides That’s probably the least I can do for them to help bring change and it has to start now…Anybody can do this. Age is not an issue.
This year has a special meaning; this year will be the first year that we do a sweat lodge. I know when I come to San Francisco I also bring awareness of our people and our culture back home. It will be an opportunity for interaction, interchange, and developing new friendships. So we will learn from them (Bay Area Indians) and they will learn from us.
30 years old
Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Family Support Specialist Supervisor, Lakota Oyate Wakamyeja Wicakiyapi
My name is Nakina Mills and I am 30 years old. I am currently contracted with Casey Family Programs to provide technical support to Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyapi Inc., which is the Tribally Chartered Child Welfare program for Child Protection Services on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I have been with this program for 7 years. I enjoy participating with PATHSTAR because of the commitment to try and learn healthy ways of contributing to a better life for myself and my family. I have been involved with Pathstar for five years and have enjoyed learning new things and have brought back what I have learned to share with my family and my co-workers.
This year will be really special because I will be bringing Shaidiem, my 9-month-old son. I will share the things I learn with him to help him be a healthier person.