Care in the Context of a Chronic Epidemic: Caring for Diabetes in Chicago’s Native Community


American Indians have some of the highest rates of diabetes worldwide, and they are disproportionately affected by the secondary complications of the disease. While most research on Native populations focuses on reservations, this study investigates diabetes care in Chicago’s Native community. People living with diabetes manage blood sugar levels to prevent the development of secondary complications. As with many diabetics, the majority of their health care work is completed outside of the biomedical setting. In this article, I explore how, in a community facing epidemic rates of disease, care is enmeshed in the everyday lives of not just those living with the disease but also significant others. As care in this context is accomplished across multiple spheres, from inside individual households to community‐wide considerations, Chicago’s intertribal community ties are strengthened. Care, in this sense, becomes a (perhaps tragic) means of Native American community building tied to cultural identity.