Sociology ETDs

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American Indians and Alaska Natives are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and are more likely than the general population to suffer from diabetes-related complications. This study attempts to clarify the relationships between indigenous knowledge, land, local history/historical trauma, and diabetes on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation, using place' as an anchoring concept. The concept of place is largely absent in sociological literature, and a growing number of researchers argue that place should be central to sociology. Further, many researchers argue that place and context matter for health and are necessary for a deeper understanding of societal inequalities. I conducted an explanatory, single-case study research design of the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation supplemented by in-depth interviews. This study is the first step for future work and will serve to develop a working methodology and establish preliminary findings. Quantitative and qualitative data, including interviews with community members, were collected to examine the relationship between indigenous knowledge, land, the experiences of local history/historical trauma, and diabetes. Findings suggested that historical experiences and losses associated with those experiences disrupted the Apache way of life, the effects of which are seen today. Historical experiences created changes that affected indigenous knowledge, including how people interacted with the land, how they prepared and consumed food, and their consequent activity levels. This research contributes to theory by highlighting the role of place, especially the role of place-based history to diabetes.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ibarra, Roberto

Second Committee Member

Nepstad, Sharon

Third Committee Member

Gonzales, Angela

Project Sponsors

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico (UNM), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at UNM, and the UNM Native American Studies program


Type 2 Diabetes, American Indians, Native Americans, Indigenous Knowledge, Health



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