ernie stevens: on this edition of "native report," we'll meet dr. arne vainio and head into our studio to watch as he performs a science experiment. rita aspinwall: we visit the american indian cancer foundation and learn about its mission. ernie stevens: and we meet the honorable diane humetewa, united states district court judges for the district of arizona. rita aspinwall: we also hear from our elders on this edition of "native report." narrator: production of "native report" is made possible by grants from the shakopee mdewakanton sioux community, the blandin foundation, and the duluth superior area community foundation. [music playing]
welcome to "native report." i'm ernie stevens. and i'm rita aspinwall. dr. arne vainio is a family-practice physician and has worked for the fond du lac human services division for the past 18 years. he's committed to getting native youth into the field of medicine and has done outreach in the form of what he calls mad scientist experiments. tonight he performs one of his experiments in our studio. michael legarde: on most days, dr. arne vainio can be found at the min no aya win clinic on the fond du lac reservation, either meeting with patients or catching up on his administrative duties. but on this day, he is in the "native report" studio to perform a science experiment. dr. vainio, thank you for coming here today, and you're going to be performing a science
experiment. what exactly are you going to be doing? we're looking at magnetism today. so we're looking at magnetism and the conductive properties of copper, and in general in superconductors. this is mad science. i started doing it with reservation schools, because i wanted our i wanted our kids to know that they could be traditional and they can be scientists, and they don't have to choose between either one of those things. they can be both at the same time. and i wanted them to see a native physician doing it. and what i want is our kids to learn science. and i want them to know these things. and as ojibwe people, and as native people, the thing that we always, forever, have lived with the earth and lived in harmony with everything. and when we took animals to feed our families, we thanked them,
we put tobacco down. we thank the creator for those things, and in today's world it's easy to get away from those things. what made us good hunters and made us good gatherers and good stewards of the earth, is we understood the earth around us. and what we needed. and some of that stuff has changed. and mad science is simply the things that are around us, but we look at them in a different way. michael legarde: for today's demonstration, dr. vainio will use a 99.99% pure copper plate, a very powerful neodymium magnet, and liquid nitrogen. so this is just a regular old magnet. and copper is not magnetic. so this is an ebay, industrial, scientific neodymium magnet. so this is a $50.00 magnet here. and this thing is so dangerous that if i carry it,
i'm stuck on the side of the car and stuck in doorways. i'm afraid of this thing on my credit cards. so this is a really, really powerful magnet. and look at this. so lenz's law, this is inducing a current into that conductor, the copper, and it's pushing back. and it's not really what you would expect. so we can change this now, this copper plate, to a relative superconductor by cooling it down. so we're going to drop the temperature of this copper plate down to 321 degrees below zero. ok, i'm going to step out of the way while you do those things. and i'm going to put some safety glasses on because this stuff could potentially splash. so what i'm going to do is i'm just going to fill this. and it's going to take a lot of liquid nitrogen to cool this thing down. so liquid nitrogen boils at 321 degrees below zero. and there's some properties of things as that cools down,
and we'll demonstrate those as we go. ok. and if we stop right there and look, look at the way this is bubbling. so you can see this bubbling up top here. when you're cooking and you test the temperature of the pan by putting some oil or some water in a pan and it skitters across top, that's called the leidenfrost effect. and what actually happens is, when you put a liquid on something that's hotter than the liquid is, it forms a vapor. just a really thin little bubble, and then it skates across on top of that bubble of vapor. i'm going to move this closer to the edge so i can fill it easier. but you can see, there's a lot of stuff going on as this plate is cooling. and this plate will take a while to cool down. so what prompted you to take the experiment that we're seeing now and bring it out into the schools?
because it's just too cool. even for a lot of science teachers, they don't really have the budget to do some of this stuff. it takes a long time. i mean it's a slow experiment. so i find that kids, and especially native kids, really identify with a native doc coming in and doing this. and there is a bond that happens right away between us. i made this electrical cord thing with a couple of nails. and when you cook a hot dog by plugging that thing into the wall, i mean they get it. and i've been into canada doing some things, on a remote reservation, and there was this little kid in the back that he just wouldn't stop asking questions. what happens if you get bit by a pregnant spider? and you could tell he just couldn't even come up with questions fast enough.
my main goal here is we have four and five-year-old doctors out there. we have four and five-year-old lawyers out there. we have four and five-year-old tv producers and cameramen out there. we need to find them. they get lost. and i would have gotten lost if it wouldn't have been for a double handful of people. michael legarde: the experiment is taking longer than usual. but with another dousing of liquid nitrogen, the plate of copper cools down enough for the desired effect. it's just starting to make another phase change here, so you can see it's starting to bubble underneath there. so as it cools down it'll make some changes you can just see, right over the surface of this, and it's just suspended, you can see that vapor. so again that's watevapor where you can see it rippling. so this is going through one of its final phase changes before this thing finally gets down to as cold as it should be. so the whole top of this table is cold and that's just from the liquid nitrogen. as it spills off of there, the vapor is heavier than the air
around it. so it's cooled this tabletop down. this table is pretty cool. so this copper plate is approaching 321 degrees below zero. and you casee there's still a little bit of liquid on there. but now, this copper plate has become more of a superconductor. so again, using lenz's law, where this is going to put a resistive current back into a current being forced into it. so let's just watch what happens to this. so, again. you can watch it tip over here if we just tip it over. so this is science, and these are properties that have always been there. and we just find them.
and even with blood tests and things like that, when we find something in a blood test it's something that's been there all the time. it's always been there, but we can just find it now. and mad science is science, and it's just the things that have been there. and medicine is more than just diagnostics, and it's more than just blood pressures and blood sugars and things like that. medicine is life. it's the things that are important to us. and it's love and forgiveness and redemption and all those things. thank you so much. dr. arne vainio: you're absolutely welcome. [non-english speech] thank you for listening to me. we're very dependent on our natural resources. and if there's threats, which there are always
threats to our environment and to our way of life, you are known to protect that. protect the water. protect the land as if it was your most favorite relative. whether it be your grandma or your grandpa, you would protect them no matter whatever come to be. you would give your own life for that. and here, that's how we view our land and our natural resources. according to the center for disease control and prevention,
native americans face alarming inequities in cancer incidence and mortality. the mission of the american indian cancer foundation is to eliminate the cancer burdens on native american families through education, prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivor support. hannah johnson: in the heart of minneapolis is the american indian cancer foundation, a national, native-govern organization dedicated to building stronger native nations by changing the story of cancer across indian country. the organization came to be, because there was a group of community leaders here in minneapolis that were recognizing growing cancer burdens among american indian elders and families, where too often a cancer diagnosis ended up as a death sentence. and that is not the case in mainstream america anymore. in the last 20 years, cancer mortality rates
have decreased among the mainstream population, but american in communities haven't been able to celebrate those same rates. we know that cigarette smoking results in cancer. there's clear linkages. nine out of 10 cases of lung cancer are directly linked to cigarette smoking. and so we're really working hard with partners across the country, across tribal communities, and engaging mainstream funders and partners to support communities to find those that wisdom. and a lot of times, it's that going back to our teachings. as native people, we have specific protocols and teachings when it comes to how to use tobacco. and cigarette smoking is not one of those teachings, but has come about over the course of history. hannah johnson: outreach efforts include hosting an annual pow
wow, having informational booths at national conferences, producing videos and brochures, and probably most importantly in this day and age, having a strong social media presence. we primarily use facebook. we do use twitter as our secondary outlet for social media. we do have linkedin, and a youtube, and a googleplus, but we've found that we don't use those as much as facebook and twitter. just within the past year tried to get more information out about awareness, specifically through each cancer month. in january, february, march, each month has a different cancer related to it. nationally it's highlighted. so for example, october was breast cancer awareness month. we try to at least get some information
to post on facebook about cancer prevention, screening opportunities, if there are any that we find that are available for native people. we did that indigenous pink campaign and it reached over 50,000 people within a week. our regular posts that we do, we try to do one every day, they may reach maybe 500 people, 300 people depending on the content imagery that's posted. but when we host a campaign and target our efforts towards that content specifically for a day like indigenous pink, we find more success in doing so. any time there's a national gathering of native folk, we're out there because it's really important that indian people know that there's an american indian cancer foundation. hannah johnson: the foundation has grown from three employees
to 14, and each brings commitment, strength, and expertise to the organization. another common denominator is that most, if not all, have been touched by cancer in some manner. my grandmother on my father's side passed away from breast cancer. and i guess what i later found out was that she had a lump in her breast, and that she hid it from people, and she was kind of scared to go to the doctor. or maybe didn't know what to do. and so i always think if she may have been informed, and this might be a generation kind of thing too. but if there was more outreach to the native community that she was in to get a mammogram or a screening, maybe she would still be here today. my grandmother was the director of social services, and so even growing up i had learned about some of the differences and disparities that exist in the health of populations,
specifically with american indians fairing worse than other populations in a lot of health areas. i was close with my grandparents, and it means something to me, and it's significant, that my grandpa passed away from prostate cancer when i was a teenager. and i really want to honor him and all my other relatives by doing this to bring about health in our communities. there's so much, really, to learn working for an organization like this, where we all really come with our own strengths. and it has also just been so valuable to work alongside people who care so deeply about this issue and about health. i had a early diagnosis, thanks to cancer screening. i had cancer caught in a precancerous stage as a young woman. my grandmother and great grandmother didn't have that same opportunity. their story is very different, where
they had a late-stage diagnosis that resulted in dying from cancer. quantifying the success of the american cancer foundation any given year is, at this point, really about the reach. and about how many native people we're able to reach. it's tricky, because we know it's going to take generations to change the whole-- especially when we talk about things like cancer prevention. things like smoking, and thinking about the food we put into our body, and being active, and maintaining a healthy weight. those things are going to take generations. [music playing] we're going to have a little activity area where we're going to actually have red willow. and you scrape the inner bark of the red willow,
and then you can add it to that the tobacco that you've grown on a tobacco plant. so you do like a blend. families used to do different blends of different herbs and things like that. it takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, but we want to also say, come up with your family blend. wouldn't that be an interesting idea for families to do? and it's a nice family activity. and also shows them the process of tobacco takes a long time. when you make your kinnikinnik, you're involving everything. you're involving yourself in gathering the plants. then you have to come and clean and dry it and involve your family into it. and it becomes more and more precious, because it takes so long to make it. and so you don't abuse it by lighting up every day. that's not what tobacco was used for. tobacco was used for praying and carrying your prayers up to the creator.
the honorable diane humetewa has the distinction of being the first native american female and enrolled tribal member, to be named as a federal judge. next, tadd johnson interviews judge humetewa, who is considered a national expert on native american legal issues. tadd johnson: the united states district court house in minneapolis recently hosted the noted exhibit "why treaties matter." and for the opening night program, the honorable diane humetewa was the keynote speaker. judge humetewa is the us district court judge for the district of arizona. your honor, thank you for this opportunity. you have many firsts in your career.
the first native american woman to be united states attorney. and the first native american woman to be a federal judge. what does it feel like to make history? well, i frankly was really surprised to learn that i was the first native american female to be confirmed as a federal district court judge. it came as a big surprise to me, and frankly i didn't learn that until i was meeting with the white house staff. and i was also very surprised when i was told that i was the first us attorney native american woman to be appointed. what really warms my heart is when i received letters, or emails, postcards, from complete strangers throughout the united states who are still writing to congratulate me on this appointment. so this was not one of your goals when you were growing up, but what did you think you'd be doing?
i had a variety of different goals. i was interested in being a teacher and in fact worked at a extended day care program with children from kindergarten up through fourth grade. and i really loved that. i also thought for a while that i wanted to work with juveniles in the system. and then i was exposed through a college externship program to the federal courts in arizona, and the interplay with the courts, and victims of crime, primarily victims of crime that occur in indian country. and it really wasn't until a few years into that job that individual lawyers would say, you really need to think about going to law school. tadd johnson: judge humetewa had a variety of support systems all through her academic career. mentors. fellow students. but most importantly, her parents.
both my parents attended boarding school, bia boarding schools. my father in santa fe indian school. my mother at phoenix indian high school. and they really didn't have the opportunities that i had or that children have today. in other words, they came from traditional families, and they didn't have the ability to have a parent or an uncle say to them, you should go the next step to college. so they are my biggest supporters. interestingly enough, a number of my role models were male, and they were lawyers. and they were some of my biggest supporters and advocates. they were individuals who would ask me questions in the course of a case that they were prosecuting, or trying. and it was really their interest in my response that gave me the idea that my opinion counted for something. tadd johnson: judge humetewa was one of several speakers
at the opening of the "why treaties matter" exhibit. the event is an outreach effort by the district court and the minnesota american indian bar association. treaties absolutely do matter today. of course, treaty making stopped many, many years ago. but really, the foundation of those treaty negotiations lasts today, because a lot of agreements-- with respect to resources, land, gathering, and farming, agriculture. just the life ways of tribal communities many, many years ago-- they don't call those negotiations these days treaty making. but they are bona fide legal negotiations that are being worked out between two sovereigns. i come to the job just as anybody else does, with a heritage, a background. whether they be hopi, whether they be german, or hispanic,
we all have a way that we grew up. what i learned, not only from before i was a lawyer working in the federal court system for four years back in the mid '80s to late '80s, was these federal court systems really have an impact on tribal communities. tadd johnson: as part of the evening's program, a drum and dance troupe from the american indian magnet school, and harding high school, performed a variety of dance styles. and judge humetewa had some words of advice for native students across indian country. read and write. just keep reading and writing. those are two very essential skills for any lawyer to have. but the other thing is to continue to put one foot in front of the other.
and just continue to find what feels good, what feels comfortable, what charges you up. something that interests you. and i think you'll be just fine. ernie stevens: for more information about "native report" or the stories we've covered, look for us on the web at nativereport.org, on facebook, and on twitter. rita aspinwall: thank you for spending this time with your friends and neighbors in indian country. i'm rita aspinwall. ernie stevens: and i'm ernie stevens. we'll see you next time on "native report." narrator: rita aspinwall is an enrolled member of the fond du lac band of lake superior chippewa and has a bachelor's degree in social work. ernie stevens is a member of the oneida nation of wisconsin and serves on the board of directors for the american indian alaska native tourism association. [music playing]