Santa Ana Pueblo, population of 870, is one of the pueblos located along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. Santa Ana Tribal members speak the Keres language and the Pueblo has prided itself on working to maintain its language, agricultural, and cultural traditions. Santa Ana has a young median age of 34 years, and 26% of the population are 18 years or younger. Chronic diseases affect the population of Santa Ana in ways similar to other Native American populations. The entire community from youth to elders is affected by diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Diabetes is by far the most prevalent chronic disease at Santa Ana. Overall diabetes prevalence is 24%, and pre-diabetes prevalence is 17%. Heart disease is another chronic disease that affects the community of Santa Ana. In our 2021 diabetes audit, 14% of individuals also had cardiovascular disease.
The Tamaya Wellness Program (TWP) has been providing programming since 1999. The program was initiated using Special Diabetes Programs for Indians (SDPI) funding. SDPI continues to be a major source of support, as well as driving our program focus on physical activity, nutrition, and chronic disease prevention and self-management for the adult population. Funding from the CDC's Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) grew a more comprehensive approach that not only addressed lifestyle change but the environmental and systemic challenges that work to inhibit individual change. CDC's Tribal Practices for Wellness in Indian Country (TWPIC) funding emphasized building resiliency and connection to community, and allowed us to survey the community and establish an accurate picture of the community access to and knowledge of obtaining, growing, preserving and preparing healthy food. We then held community listening sessions, and were able to plan and implement strategies to address identified needs.
The purpose of this project is to expand and build on our existing work and lessons learned, continuing to nurture our community relationships and partnerships to expand our impact. We have chosen the following strategies:
- Seasonal cultural and traditional practices that support health and wellness
- Social and cultural activities that promote community wellness
- Cultural teachings and practices about traditional healthy foods to promote health, sustenance and sustainability
Our first year activities will offer food growing and preservation support; increase awareness of native plants and herbs; provide opportunities for intergenerational learning; support healthy eating through education and skill-building for community members and food vendors; and strengthening a community food-sharing network.
All of this work will contribute to the intermediate outcomes of increased cultural and social connectedness, and increased consumption of healthy traditional foods.