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Conference focuses on cancer concerns in Native American communities

Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Cancer in Native American communities is the focus of a four-day national conference in Niagara Falls.

The 10th annual Spirit of EAGLES National Conference mixes science and Native American tradition.

Rodney Haring, an assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institue and enrolled member of the  Seneca Nation, told WBFO he is proud to be a part of a conference that mixes two elements of his life into one event.

“To bring together the team of people who are going to be there and speaking...It’s one of those places you have to be, to really understand and be part of," he said.

The conference is titled: Changing Patterns of Cancer in Native American Communities: Strength Through Tradition and Science.

Haring hopes the event will bring light to some pressing  issues that face Native Americans.

“There’s been a lower rate of screenings -- colorectal screenings --  in the United States compared to other populations,” said Haring. “Those are some of the things we hope to attend to, and talk about, and share in how we can counteract that."

Environmental issues are also expected to take center stage.

“The environment is also something that’s important in contemporary times – with Standing Rock Sioux and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the potential for containments in our environment related to cancer," Haring said. "Those also are contemporary concerns related to cancer.”

The event will feature traditional Native American food, song and dance. Among the people scheduled to attend include:

  • Joanne Shenandoah – Grammy Award-winning singer, composer and guitarist
  • Tadodaho Sidney Hill – of the Onondaga Nation, spiritual Leader of the Haudenosaunee community within the Six Nations/Iriquois Confederacy
  • Thomas R. Porter (Sakokwenionkwas) – spiritual leader of the Mohawk Community of Kanatsioharek
  • Evan Adams, MD. – Canadian Actor, playwright and physician, and member of the Sliammon First Nation

For sports fans, a  lacrosse game will be open to the public.
Haring said he would like people to understand that this conference is the type of event that helps to mold the future look of our nation.

“It’s for events like this, the people that we meet, the science that’s shared, the joint efforts between native and non-native scientists all working towards a common goal,” said Haring. “Conferences of this nature are very important in both community health, but also the science and wellbeing in future generations.”

The event runs through Sept. 24.

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