Diabetes is the scourge of civilization. A disproportionate number of people living in the most advanced societies suffer from it.
But the people who suffer the most are the original inhabitants of the lands that the Western societies occupied. Whether they are the Native Americans, people of Canada’s First Nations, Australia’s Indigenous population, or other conquered peoples, the result everywhere has been the same — lots of diabetes.
The reason why is no mystery. The conquerors destroyed the indigenous cultures, often intentionally but with what they thought were good intentions. By punishing students in native schools for using their own language, by attacking native religion, and by extolling the wonders of Western food, the victors hoped to integrate the defeated into mainstream culture. Instead, they marginalized the defeated from both their own culture and from that of the West.
Decrying their food choices of the defeated misses the point, as Sousan Abadian elucidates in her Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation. The point is that they suffer what she calls “collective trauma.”
Craig Lambert interviewed her for his brilliant article, “Trails of Tears, and Hopes,” for the March-April 2008 issue of Harvard Magazine. You can read the PDF of the full article online.