Indigenous Women's Rights & Health Care
By Tina Turbin



Native American women were removed from their land many years ago and denied many rights of a woman. Their sexuality was ignored and their rights to be properly informed, and to receive good honest help concerning their health, family and female issues did not exist.

The abuses Native American women received in the late 19th century were simply forced marches to reservations, but there was also a "Save the Babies" campaign from 1912-1918. This was when federal agents took children from their own homes, and labeled many healthy women unfit for "scientific motherhood."

Studies revealed that the Indian Health Services sterilized 25-50 percent of Native American women between 1970 and 1976. Complaints subsequently led to a General Accounting Office investigation, documenting violations which included sterilization of minors.

These indigenous women began to come forward, and two years before that investigation in 1974, they protested sterilization practices at federal hospitals on four reservations where uninformed women, including minors, had been deceived in-to consenting to the surgery! Also, there are reports of inappropriate contraceptive care, with federal personnel encouraging tubal litigation (to be sterilized) before turning 30, and not informing them the effects would be permanent.

The good news about all this is the outcome of a book made for the indigenous woman or female: "Indigenous Women's Health Book, Within the Sacred Circle." This book was written and edited by indigenous women, and encourages its readers to get active and involved in their own health care. This incredible book is like the all-too-familiar book, "Our Bodies Ourselves."

The indigenous women have benefited from the information in this book for just under five years, and after so many years of inhumane treatment, the information has helped countless women to get to know their own bodies, their options and choices they can make. They are now more informed about their body; can walk into an office informed, not take abuse, and know when to walk out.

This book contains many chapters of interest to help women in a variety of ways, yet up to this point, no one has cared to share this information with them. It covers herbs and healing wisdom, the controversial subject of smoking, and the fact that 40% of Native Americans and Alaskan natives smoke; stating tobacco was originally intended for religious purposes as well as medicinal. The daily and recreational use was never intended, and effects on one's health as a result of this change has been non-optimum.

We know that some of this may be common sense, as we have family, friends, classes on Health Education, books, magazines and gyms everywhere sharing advice to improve our lives. However, these women have not had this available and do not have people to help educate them, or to help them learn a better way to live or to improve their lives.

With the help of some caring indigenous women and a heck of a lot of research and writing, many indigenous women are becoming stronger, healthier and able to go through life with their head held high, understanding their own physiology.

Tina Turbin is an author, researcher, lecturer and artist, the creator of a health & wellness website:, author of children's book series, "Danny the Dragon," and a regular contributor to and www.Kids . Visit


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