Many Fourth World nations have experienced an explosive growth of chronic diseases in their populations. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, and suicide along with alcoholism and conventional and illicit drug addiction now top the list of killers in Mexico’s indigenous villages, on US reservations and Canadian reserves. Where Mexican communities had no diabetes or heart disease twenty-years ago, these chronic conditions now afflict growing numbers of young and old. In Canadian communities these chronic conditions, these slow killers, began to rear their ugly heads twenty-five years ago and as recently as ten years ago. Fourth World nations in the US have experienced a growing incidence of chronic diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancers since the end of World War II. In all of these nations, chronic diseases were virtually non-existent until fairly recently. What changed?
The benefits of modern free enterprise and the loss of natural foods and medicines.
Medical practitioners in all three countries have busily over-prescribed antibiotics that have suppressed immune systems and irrationally prescribed Oxycodone–that wonder drug sythesized from thebaine that has contributed to millions of addictions. The US Indian Health Service is the source of growing drug addiction cases on Indian reservations simply because “pain relief” is taken from an Oxycodone bottle. In Mexico a cold will get a person a dose of antibiotics even though such a prescription will do nothing for the cold. Canada has irrationally promoted the importation of harmful sweets and carbohydrates into Indian communities contributing to dietary overloads from these refined sources.
Inexpensive foods, dangerous drugs, environmentally dangerous herbicides and pesticides are regularly dumped into native communities. Natural environments are destroyed so they are nolonger accessible or available for natural food and medicine harvests. Mercury and ddt is increasingly found in the fats of fish poisoning native peoples and further undermining their immune systems.
Free enterprise principles argue that these native peoples want these poisons and so the economies of states produce them. Nonsense! Native peoples want healthy and unadulterated foods and medicines like all the rest of humanity. The so called free enterprise system dumps garbage into native communities and rapes their natural territories leaving growing numbers of Fourth World peoples with chronic diseases that slowly, but most assuredly maim and kill as if a bomb had been dropped.
Fourth World peoples still have knowledge of important foods and medicines that prevent chronic diseases, but they don’t always have the social or physical access to these necessities of life.
Wild plants, clean fish, clean wild animals, medicines from the earth–all are quite attractive even to the metropolitan city dweller. Indeed, their measured use will reverse most chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and depression. Unfortunately, the demands of the city dweller extract the very best from Fourth World territories and return foods and medicines that create dependence, addiction and chronic disease. Fourth World culture, foods and medicines are the source of life that all of humanity must work to preserve and encourage by avoiding the pharmaceutical fix: the pill that poisons.
Leaders of Fourth World nations must take the initiative to protect their peoples from the poisons of “modern civilization.” This was the mission of many leaders in the 19th and 20th century. New leaders in the 21st century must find new ways to protect their peoples and ensure their health for generations to come, or there will be no generations to come. This cause is so urgent that delay of a few years will see only growing destruction in Fourth World communities.
(c) 2007 Center for World Indigenous Studies
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The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here