Ute women unite

Lynda D’Wolf and Emcee Pearl Casias speak on obesity at the Ute Women’s Conference held at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort Friday, Oct. 13.
Pearl Casias shares her thoughts and stories about menopause during the Ute Women’s Conference.
During the conference, Lynda D’Wolf introduces the topic of menopause.
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum
Maria Rivera | The Southern Ute Drum

Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute women gathered together Friday, Oct. 13, at the Sky Ute Casino and Resort to discuss various aspects of being a Ute woman. Topics included: obesity, aging, child birthing, menopause and cancer. Licensed massage therapist, Sherry Wells provided the women with a free massage during the conference. Trae Seibel started the conference with an opening prayer and program emcee, Pearl Casias introduced guest speakers: Lynda D’Wolf, Linda Eagle and Sherry Wells.

One of the biggest health issues within Ute women is obesity. More than half of the elders are diabetic. Utes were hunters and gatherers before Europeans arrived and introduced them to salt, flour and sugar. “If we don’t control our fat intake we will gain medical conditions such as: asthma, diabetes, eczema and all kinds of diseases,” Lynda D’Wolf said. “It’s never too late to make those changes, it takes a lot of strength and will.” All the chemicals and processed stuff you put into your body will always have a side effect. Beef is one of the culprits of sickness, it is filled with antibiotics before it makes it to your plate. “What we shouldn’t eat, should be a priority,” said Pearl Casias. Diabetes can be reversed, Christine Sage and Pearl Casias changed their eating habits and now they do not have to take anymore pills.

Within the Ute culture there are many different beliefs regarding different aspects of life, such as childbirth. There are many rules and restrictions while bearing a child that some Ute women abide by today. It’s harder to follow all the rules in this century where you now have to continue to make a living. “It takes commitment and determination to keep the culture and beliefs alive,” Linda Eagle said. One thing a lot of women do is wrap their body after childbirth in order to keep everything tight. “[The hormone] relaxin is released once you become pregnant to relax cartilage and get the body ready for the birthing process,” said Sherry Wells. Women should wrap their midsection for 30 days, which is the amount of time you should bond with your child and take care of yourself. The question arose about what women wrapped their bodies in; and back in the day women used wet willows and sheets. It kept the body tight and the organs in place.

Menopause was the subject all the ladies were very interested in and they all shared various experiences they went through. It varies from person to person, some people get extremely bad hot flashes while others get little to none. Once you hit menopause you no longer have periods and can no longer bear children. To help with hot flashes, drink ginger water or teas almost everyday to help control your hot flashes; in the evening, peppermint and spearmint help as well. During menopause it helps if you have healthy habits, the better your diet the less your hot flashes.

Guest speaker Sherry Wells spoke on health and cancer. She stated that you should eat what you are able to hunt, grow and harvest on your own, as close to what your ancestors ate. Water is essential for good health, it hydrates your muscles, helps with wrinkles, blemish and flushes organs. “Water is the elixir of youth,” Wells said. Hemp oil caps are the best source of omega-3s, it eats cancer cells and is great for your organs. Turmeric is also good for your body, it gets rid of inflammation and is also a cancer fighter. Apricot seeds are high in B-17 and fights cancer cells. It’s important to stay away from flour, dairy, sugar and corn as much as you can. “Read food labels, the first three ingredients on the list are the ones the products have most of,” Wells said. Milk and red meats are filled with poison for your body and are the main causes of diabetes and cancers.

Another big topic in Ute culture is preserving the language. “There are a handful of people fighting to keep the language alive but there are even more people who show no interest in learning the language,” D’Wolf said. The Southern Ute Culture Department provides Ute language classes and education materials for learning the language. There is also a book and an App in iTunes for the Ute language. “Parents need to lead by example, educate your youth, it gives you and them a sense of pride and belonging,” said Miali Plentyholes.

Sherry Wells works at the Sky Ute Casino Spa and offers massage, detox, bio-energy healing, hot stone and cupping as well as answering all your health and wellness questions. “You only get one body, take care of it now before it is too late,” D’Wolf said.

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