Thursday, October 13, 2011

1st Navajo Woman Surgeon to Give Talk

FOR RELEASE -- Oct. 13, 2011
Lori Arviso Alvord, the first Navajo woman to be board certified as a surgeon, will present a brown bag lunch talk in the Calvin Hall Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 21, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Alvord’s book, The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, has been selected as one of the 2011 Lobo Reading Program texts. It is an account of her struggle to unite traditional Navajo views of healing with western medicine, and especially surgery.

Alvord is currently associate dean of Student and Multicultural Affairs at Dartmouth Medical School in New Hampshire. A member of the Navajo Tribe, she was born to the Tsinnajinné clan (Ponderosa Pine), and born for the Ashihii' Diné (Salt People) clan.

Alvord, a native of Gallup, was trained as a surgeon at Stanford University. Upon returning to New Mexico to work among the Navajo, she says that “although I was a good surgeon, I was not always a good healer. I went back to the healers of my tribe to learn what a surgical residency could not teach me. From them I have heard a resounding message: Everything in life is connected. Learn to understand the bonds between humans, spirit and nature. Realize that our illness and our healing alike come from maintaining strong and healthy relationships in every aspect of our lives.”

Alvord learned through working with her Navajo patients that modern medicine could not restore the missing harmony. Diné healers use singing, symbols and ceremonies and work with family and neighbors in the healing. The ceremonies provide psychological and spiritual comfort that help prepare patients for experiences in modern medicine such as surgery or chemotherapy. Alvord believes the Native healing practices help promote recovery after these procedures.

Her book, published in 1999, was published by Bantam and is available in the UNM-Gallup Bookstore. The event is free and the public is invited.

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