Published August 12 2010
North Dakota tribes get grants to aid diabetes fightBISMARCK – Faye Foote took off for Bismarck at midnight, urging her 7-year-old son not to fall asleep in the backseat.
Keeping her car dome light on and with an eye out for deer, she repeatedly told him to stay awake.
“Mom, I’m OK,” Sly kept saying during the trip from Fort Yates.
But with a blood sugar level 10 times normal, he wasn’t OK as they raced to get to a Bismarck hospital.
Foote hasn’t forgotten that night on Oct. 26, 2003, when diabetes entered her now 14-year-old son’s life. A year later, her diabetic mother would die after her blood sugar plummeted.
Foote, who now lives in Mandan, was among those who gave emotional diabetes testimony Wednesday at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck.
At the event, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., announced North Dakota reservations will receive $1.8 million in federal funding to help prevent and treat diabetes.
The grants are funded through the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians and will help four tribes continue to provide diabetes health services to tribal members afflicted by diabetes.
The grants include $729,226 for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, $624,234 for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, $452,673 for the Spirit Lake Tribe and $50,000 for Fort Yates Indian Health Service.
Diabetes affects an estimated 36,000 North Dakotans, according to the North Dakota Diabetes Prevention and Control Program website.
In 2008, 7.6 percent of North Dakota adults reported they had been diagnosed with diabetes. Another estimated 2.5 percent are believed to have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed, the website stated.
Native American adults have a prevalence rate nearly twice as high as white adults.
Dorgan listened on Wednesday as North Dakotans thanked him for his support of diabetes and shared their stories.
Krystal Johnson of Trenton was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 12 and has lived with it for 27 years.
“The cost of the insulin, the strips, all the supplies that you need when you’re a diabetic … if it wasn’t for these grants, there’s no way in the world I would be able to afford to pay for all these supplies,” she told Dorgan.
John Buckley of Standing Rock said about 885 people of the 5,600 living on the reservation have diabetes.
“It’s a good thing that we have the diabetes program because, if we didn’t have it, there would be a lot of people that would probably be dead,” he said.
Jesse Kramer of Minot said he and his wife, Brekka, didn’t have many places to turn when daughter Haley, now 13, was diagnosed with diabetes seven years ago.
“We taught ourselves how to do this stuff on the Internet,” he said.
Now Minot has diabetes education and nutrition support staff, Kramer said.
“It’s nice to see that the families just being diagnosed now don’t have to do what we had to do,” said Kramer, whose younger daughter, Emma, 9, also has diabetes.
Dorgan said he was inspired by the stories.
With continued funding, “I think in the lives of these children, we will have a cure for diabetes,” Dorgan said. “I really believe that will be the case, and it will have profound impacts for the world.”
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.