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Sylva – A new traveling exhibition, Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness, which examines concepts of health and medicine among contemporary American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people is opening at the Jackson County Public Library.  A special opening ceremony will kick off the exhibit on June 23rd at 6 PM. Tom Belt will speak about the holistic idea of Tohi. The Tohi approach integrates physical, mental, and spiritual interventions into a wellness package: three legs of a stool.

The traveling exhibition, produced by the National Library of Medicine, explores the connection between wellness, illness, and cultural life through a combination of interviews with Native people, artwork, objects, and interactive media.  The exhibition will be open to the public from June 23rd until July 31.

The National Library of Medicine has a history of working with Native communities as part of the Library’s commitment to make health information resources accessible to people no matter where they live or work. The Native Voices exhibition concept grew out of meetings with Native leaders in Alaska, Hawaii and the Lower 48.

“We hope that visitors in communities across the country will learn from the ideas, practices, and traditions shared here,” says Betsy L. Humphreys, acting director of the National Library of Medicine. “We hope, too, that those who host the exhibition will enrich it by including additional content and programs that reflect their local Native culture and history.”

“This exhibition honors the Native tradition of oral history and establishes a unique collection of information,” says Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, director emeritus of the National Library of Medicine. “We hope visitors will find Native Voices both educational and inspirational, and we hope Native people will view it with pride.”

The Jackson County Public Library will provide Cherokee-centric programming along with the exhibit. Some of the speakers lending their expertise to Native Voices will be Sarah Sneed, Julie Reed, and Vickie Bradley. Benjamin Woody, the JCPL Adult Services Supervisor and Native Voices Project Director says, "It is truly an honor for the Jackson County Public Library to win the grant to receive the Native Voices exhibit. We are the first library of our size to host the exhibit. This year Native Voices is going to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Sylva. We really hope the community will come out to both support and learn from this amazing opportunity."

For more information, call the Library at 586-2016.