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June 15, 2006

Burke Museum collaborates with Native communities to combat the crisis of diabetes

Seattle—Dr. Peter Lape, curator of Archaeology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, is taking part in a collaborative effort between the Burke Museum, local tribal members, archaeologists, and healthcare workers to address the growing diabetes crisis in Northwest Native American communities.null

For the first time, archaeological and historical data will be used to create an accessible inventory of traditional foods in pre-contact Puget Sound Native communities.Information including animal bones, hunting equipment, plant remains, and food processing tools are being used to reconstruct and understand pre-contact Native diets. This inventory will provide clues to healthier traditional diets for Northwest Native Americans who suffer from a disproportionately high prevalence of diabetes.

With this data, the team of collaborators will then launch an educational outreach program targeting Native communities that encourages them to consider the links between diet and diabetes and to appreciate traditional alternatives as part of a healthier lifestyle. “This is one way that archaeology can be directly useful in improving people’s lives,” said Dr. Lape on the impact of this important project.

Dr. Lape’s co-writer Robert Kopperl presented this data at the Society for American Archaeology at its annual conference in April 2006. For the full 400-word article on the project, contact MaryAnn Barron. More information about the Puget Sound Traditional Food and Diabetes project can be found at Peter Lape’s Web site (http://faculty.washington.edu/plape/tradfoods/tradfood.htm) or at the Burke Web site (www.burkemuseum.org).

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