National Native American Heritage Month


Epilepsy News From:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

In recognition of the 51,000 Native Americans living with active epilepsy in the United States, the Epilepsy Foundation is raising much-needed awareness during National Native American Heritage Month (November) and Native American Heritage Day (November 27, 2020). 

Facts About Native Americans and Epilepsy

  • A recent CDC-funded study showed that among 2010-2014 Medicaid enrollees, a larger proportion of American Indian, Alaskan Natives, along with Asian, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders, were in a group which took the longest time (median time=27 months) from a new-onset seizure to an epilepsy diagnosis compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
  • In 2000, a University of California-San Francisco study found that the prevalence of active epilepsy in the Navajo Nation was 9.2 per 1,000 people and that prevalence was higher among males, children under 5 years of age, and older adults.

Our Campaign

By working with the National Congress of American Indians, the National Indian Health Board, a former executive of the Indian Health Service, and Native American media outlets, the Epilepsy Foundation’s Multicultural Outreach Program has established a culturally appropriate and relevant outreach campaign to increase epilepsy and Seizure First Aid education among Native and Indigenous communities. 

This month’s campaign includes information about Seizure First Aid and translated Seizure First Aid posters in Navajo, Cherokee, and Lakota. 

Seizure First Aid Posters in Native Languages

Native American Newspapers

Cherokee Phoenix Digital Ad
Cherokee Phoenix Digital Ad

In addition, the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper is publishing the Seizure First Aid poster in Cherokee and the “Epilepsy and COVID-19 Awareness for Native Americans” article on November 16.

Check out the article in the online edition!

The Cherokee Phoenix and Navajo Times have posted a Seizure First Aid digital ad on their websites to encourage more Cherokee, Navajo, and Indigenous communities to learn Seizure First Aid. 

Native Radio

Also, on November 16, the Native America Calling radio show featured the following guests to discuss Native American health and epilepsy:

  • Suzanne Matsumori, Executive Director, Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona
  • Jolee Mitchell (Navajo), High schooler living with epilepsy
  • Mary Smith (enrolled member of Cherokee Native), Former Chief Executive of the Indian Health Service, Epilepsy Foundation Native American Health Consultant
  • Dr. Stanley Johnson, Pediatric Neurology Specialist, Children’s Health Center - Flagstaff Medical Center

Listen to the radio show.

Jolee Mitchell
Jolee Mitchell, Navajo teen living with epilepsy

Quote from Native America Calling Show

You are not alone- Jolee Mitchell

“It gets easier. Every time you tell someone you have epilepsy a little bit of the embarrassment fades away. You have to make sure that multiple people know Seizure First Aid so they can help at any time that you have a seizure,” said Jolee Mitchell.

Learn More

Authored by: Multicultural Outreach Program on 11/2020

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

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