By Stacy Thacker, University of Montana
Growing up I don't remember getting the speech about the birds and the bees. It’s not that my parents were apprehensive to bring up the subject. I'm sure if I asked questions they would have answered them, however, I never did, so it never came up.
Parents and kids alike have a hard time approaching the subject but somewhere that needs to change, especially on Indian Country. With culture and tradition some tribes have very little patience for talk of sex let alone disease. These issues are seen as taboo and inappropriate for discussion.
However we are entering a new time and a new age where more people are having sex at younger ages. If they aren't educated on the consequences of unprotected sex then they are less likely to take that precaution to prevent disease and teenage pregnancy.
According to an article from Fronterasdesk.org, HIV has doubled on the Navajo Nation. While these diseases have been around for some time it is fairly new to Natives. Or at least publicly acknowledging it is new. These attitudes make it even harder on both the infected individual as well as the community.
Kevan Scott, a 22-year-old Navajo, was brave enough to talk about his experience with telling his family of his HIV diagnosis, which didn't turn out as many would expect. Feeling shunned by friends and family he ended up leaving the reservation.
It’s hard growing up in a heavy traditional area, especially when you're trying to mix the modern into the culture. A lot of elders won't have it and they aren't shy about it either, if they don't agree with something they will let you know. This honesty and passion about tradition is what keeps the culture striving but it’s also what keeps young Natives from dealing with situations that are traditionally frowned upon.
HIV and AIDS are infecting the Navajo people. Reservation communities need to shed some light on the issue for those who are too afraid to get tested
Safe sex education is essential to building a strong healthy new generation. Weaving these modern issues into the traditional teaching may save more than just a life but a tribe and its values.
Stacy Thacker (Navajo) is from Navajo, N.M.