Local Impact - Minnesota

Arne Vainio, MD - Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

Fond du Lac Human Services Diabetes Prevention Program

"We have an Ojibwe saying, “We do these things to keep our traditions and language alive.” The only way to do this is to keep our elders alive and the best way to do that is through our diabetes prevention efforts and everything that goes with it."
- Arne Vainio, MD

My mom endured multiple complications from diabetes including, amputations of both her legs and a kidney transplant. On the night of my graduation from residency she passed away from congestive heart failure. Then at age 46 my brother had a stroke which started me on my personal journey to look at my own health risks. That journey has evolved into writing health articles for a variety of Native publications and a video-documentary that has gone viral in Native communities.

Along the way, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, enrolled in the Fond du Lac Diabetes Prevention Program, lost 17 pounds and today my blood sugar is no longer in the pre-diabetic range. I think it was strange for others in the classes when I first started attending, but I learned a lot in the 16 week Lifestyle Balance curriculum and 3 year commitment. I felt it was extremely helpful that the program was a team effort with clinicians, diabetes educators, lifestyle coaches, dietitians, fitness coaches, and support staff. I especially appreciated the sharing and being at the table with the other participants who were also focused on diabetes prevention and improving their overall health. The education and support from both the staff and participants was invaluable. We are a sharing community. That is our heritage and that’s how we learn our language and culture.

Diabetes in Minnesota

According to 2008 CDC data, approximately 229,000 people in Minnesota – 5.6% of the population – had diagnosed diabetes, and many suffer from serious diabetes related complications or conditions. In addition to the human toll diabetes places on people in Minnesota, the financial burden diabetes places on the state’s health system is staggering – in 2007, the direct and indirect cost of diabetes in Minnesota was approximately $2.68 billion.

Stories & Progams

Diabetes Program Participants
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Diabetes Care Providers
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The Poarch Creek Indian Community
Community Diabetes Support Group


Charlotte McConnell
SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Lifestyle Balance and Diabetes Prevention Program

Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation
Annual Diabetes Walk

Southcentral Foundation Special Diabetes Program for Indians


Celia Milner
CHR Department, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians

Marlene Valentine -
Navajo Special Diabetes Project

Rudy Clark
Hualapai Healthy Heart Project


Case Manager
United American Indian Involvement

Jackie Patton
Chapa-De Indian Clinic

Amy Lemmer
Sonoma County Indian Health Project

Alberta Manuel
Sonoma County Indian Health


Mohegan Tribe
Uncasville, CT


Anela Lautalo


Christie Lussoro
Nimiipuu Health Diabetes Program


Becky Youngbear-Alvarado
Meskwaki Diabetes Prevention Program


Stephanie Crawford
Haskell Health Center Diabetes Prevention Program


Jena Band of Choctaw Indians


Aroostook Band of MicMac


Tracy L. Sagataw
Hannahville Indian Community Clinic Diabetes Program

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Rebecca Price
Pokagon Health Services Special Diabetes Program for Indians


Arne Vainio, MD
Fond du Lac Human Services Diabetes Prevention Program


Pastor Thomas Ben
Fond du Lac Human Services Diabetes Prevention Program

Samuel Amos
Fond du Lac Human Services Diabetes Prevention Program


Faye Filesteel
Fort Belknap Healthy Heart Project


Clarissa Hoffman
Ho-Chunk Hope Diabetes Prevention

New Mexico

Judy Reuter
Santa Ana Pueblo
Elsie R. Pino
Ramah Navajo Heart Saver Project
Erlene Sandoval
Navajo Special Diabetes Project

New York

St. Regis Mohawk Tribe
Let’s Get Healthy Program

North Carolina

Ulela Harris
Cherokee Diabetes Program

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Cherokee, NC

North Dakota

Cheryl Donoven
On Eagles Wings Diabetes Prevention Program


Terry Williams
Black Hawk Health Center

Allen Dale
Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) Get SET & Fight Diabetes program

Read more about OKCIC (PDF)

Glendine Blanchard
Absentee Shawnee Tribe Healthy Heart Program


Dylan Jones
NARA Northwest

Taylor David
Klamath Diabetes Prevention Program Cow Creek Consortium

Shirley Heath
Warm Springs Oregon Diabetes Prevention Program

Jennifer Smith
Warm Springs Oregon Diabetes Prevention Program

Larry Smith
Warm Springs Oregon Diabetes Prevention Program

Rhode Island

Mary Lou Stanton
Narangansett Indian Health Clinic-Diabetes Program

South Carolina

Catawba Indian Nation
Special Diabetes Program for Indians

South Dakota

Pete Fills the Pipe
Pine Ridge IHS Diabetes Prevention Program


Reggie Martinez
Uintah & Ouray IHS Clinic - Healthy Heart Project


Christina Hicks
SDPI-Community Direct Diabetes Grant
Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

Buddy and Les Hoptowit (Brothers)
Yakama Indian Health Center Healthy Heart Project


Marion Reynolds
St. Croix Healthy Heart Program

Wanda McFaggen
St. Croix Healthy Heart Program

Wendell Waukau
Menominee Diabetes Program


Regina Whiteplume
Eastern Shoshone Diabetes Program