Pima Diabetes Curse

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Pima Diabetes Curse

Picture yourself as the youngest member of a four-person family. You are fifteen and have a great deal on your plate. You worry about school and dating. You worry about what to wear and what your plan is for Friday night. Now factor a few more items into the equation. One, your Father has lost a leg due to complications from diabetes. Two, your mother is in need of a kidney transplant as a result of diabetes. Three, your older sister is in the beginning stages of diabetes and four, you know that you’re next. This case scenario seems far-fetched, but if you are a member of the Arizona Pima tribe, this is commonplace. In fact, according to an article in the Oklahoma Indian Times, “the Pimas have the highest rate of diabetes in the entire world”(1). Being that diabetes is an inherited disease and the fact that most Pimas marry within their tribe, it makes sense that the number of cases continues to rise. However, diabetes was not always a concern for the Pimas. It has only been in the years that followed World War II that the Pimas health has been deteriorating (Marchland 2). In the past sixty years diabetes has been the biggest killer of the Pima people (Marchland 1). Coincidently, it has been these same sixty years that the Pimas have adopted a more Western way of life. It can be argued that without the influence of the outside world, the Pimas would not be suffering from diabetes.

The Pimas make their home in Arizona along the Gila River. The article “Pathfinders for Health,” by Jane DeMouy depicts the Pimas as kind and generous people. According to DeMouy, Pimas are known to be “great basket weavers and farmers”(DeMouy 1). Some of the Pima’s crops include wheat and beans and squash. ...

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... the main reasons the Pimas of today are suffering from diabetes.

Works Cited

“New Awareness Campaign Targets the Diabetes Epidemic in American Indians and Alaska

Natives.” Oklahoma Indian Times 31 Dec. 2000: V.VI; N.12 A6.

DeMouy, Jane. “Pathfinders for Health.” The Pima Indians 17 Oct. 2002.


Lincoln, Michel. Letter to Tribal Leader. 3 Jul. 2002.

Marchland, Lorraine. “Obesity and Diabetes.” The Pima Indians 10 Oct. 2002.


Mercola, Dr. “Western Diet Increases Diabetes in Pima Indians.” Diabetes Care 24:811-816.

May 2001. <http://www.mercola.com/2001/may/19/diabetes.htm>.

Sevilla, Graciela. “Sister Tribe Avoids Health Pitfalls, Traditional Life is the Difference.”

The Arizona Republic 2 Nov. 1999.

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