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Native American Healing
Transcript of Native American Healing
By: Tayla Zammarelli
-Native American healing has been around for countless centuries. However, many of its practices were illegal in the United States for decades
-Native American medicine has greatly influenced modern medicine, although it is rarely acknowledged
-Colonists viewed native healing as superstition and inferior to their sophisticated medicine practices
-However, many colonists believed they benefited from and survived diseases due to Native American treatments
Native American spiritual and traditional beliefs:
-There is a single higher power known as the Creator, along with lesser beings known as spirit helpers
-Plants, animals and humans are all part of the spirit world. The spirit world is side by side with the physical world
-Human beings are made up of the mind, body, and spirit
-Wellness comes from harmony between the mind, body, and spirit. Unwellness is when there is disharmony between the mind, body, and spirit
-Each of us is responsible for our own wellness by keeping ourselves attuned to self, relations, environment, and universe
Relationship between healing and spirituality
-To Native Americans, spirituality means “Walking the path of Good Medicine in harmony and balance with all our relations”
-Spiritual practices are an important aspect of daily life
-they are necessary for the harmony and balance of the individual, family, clan, and community
-Healing and worship are considered the same thing
-Health and wellness are considered both a physical and spiritual state
-Healing and wellness emphasize seeking harmony within oneself
-A person must have an active relationship between the physical and spiritual world
Relationship between healing and the environment
-The Circle is a symbol of power, relation, peace and unity
-Each person stands at the center of the circle and is identified by their heart
-It is a reminder of the sacred relationship humans share with all living beings of the world, including plants and animals
-The Circle of Life if the belief that all things are alive, have spiritual energy, and are of essential importance to the Circle
- Native plants are used for healing purposes to promote health by living in harmony with the earth.
-“Good Medicine” is seen as the balance between human, ecological, and spiritual systems
-“Bad Medicine” is seen as being in disharmony with the universe, which invites illness
Native American healing and the Community
-Native American find extreme importance in existing in the world and community
-Family also means brothers and sisters in the plant and animal world
-Also consists of minerals, Mother Earth, and Father Sky
Native American Medicine
Native American Healers
-Healers use stories, humor, music, tobacco, smudging, and ceremonies to bring healing energies into the healing space and focus their effects.
-The healing process also goes beyond the individual patient
-Traditional healers use patient’s immediate family and community to help as well
-Healer spends a large amount of time with the person seeking help
-Treatment is a slow process and can take days or weeks
Healing Traditions and Ceremonies
-Native American healing incorporates mind and body techniques to treat almost any condition whether it is psychological or physical.
-Different tribes have different ceremonies for healing
-The goal of the ceremonies is to offer thanks, and maintain harmony and balance with the mind, body, spirit and environment
-Healing often includes participation of the friends and family of the person seeking help
-Traditions of Native American healing include the sweat lodge, vision quest, smudging ,blessing way, pipe, and the Sun Dance
The Sweat Lodge Ceremony
-Healing ritual where the individual removes themself from their daily activities to gain spiritual focus and have a peaceful and quiet time of self-reflection
-This can help a person determine life’s purpose and experience personal growth
-Restores harmony and balance to the individual, family, clan, community, and nation
-Healing and restoring harmony takes place through singing or chanting
-Healing practice to connect the physical and spiritual worlds
-Pipe smoke rises as means of integrating prayers into the spiritual and physical worlds
Sun Dance Ceremony
-A private Native American community event that is very spiritual
-Lasts for 3-4 days
-People offer prayers for others, receive visions, receive skin piercing, or can be treated by medicine men
-There are Native American ceremonies for healing sickness, renewing relationships with the spirit beings, initiation, success in hunting and growing crops, and giving thanks
The Medicine Wheel
-The basis of the medicine wheel is a circle
-Used for health and healing
-It consists of four sections with four colors that each represent different properties
-It embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree—all of which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life.
-The Four Directions represent North, South, East, and West but they can also represent the stages of life, seasons of the year, elements of nature, animals, and plants
-Serves as a reminder that all aspects of life are important and need to be balanced
-Different tribes interpret the medicine wheel differently
-The wheel is used to create a balance, since it is believed that imbalance is the cause of disease.
Differences from Western medicine
-The western medical model sees healing as curing
-The focus is on curing diseases- not much connection between mind and body
-Native Americans see healing as recovering ones wholeness
-Healing is a balance of mind, spiritual and physical aspects of life
-Today Native Americans frequently combine traditional healing practices with allopathic medicine to promote health and well-being
-a purification ceremony
-the most widely recognized form of Native American healing
-considered to be a rebirthing experience
-It is cleansing and a fresh start to life
-Serves to purify those undergoing healing
-They are known as having “Medicine Sweats”
-The burning of certain herbs to create a cleansing smoke
-Smoke is a very powerful cleansing spirit and can purify people and send messages to a greater spirit
-Herbs that are usually used are sage, cedar or juniper, lavender, and sweet grass
-Much of what we know today about herbal medicine is based on Native American healing
-In Native American Culture, medicine means “The essence of life or an inner power that creates every living being’s particular way of life and presence”
-Medicine consists of physical remedies like herbs or teas to prevent illnesses, but it is also the essence of a person’s inner being
-Medicine is found in every tree, plant, rock, animal, and person
-It is in the light, soil, water, and wind
-Medicine can even be found in laughter, catching up with an old friend, or watching a child play
- To Native Americans, health is a continual process of staying strong spiritually, mentally, and physically.
-Medicine people are community-based traditional healers who have power that other members of the tribe do not have
Their power comes from visions that lead them into studying medicine, or by being born into a family with many generations of medicine people
-In many tribes, both men and women can serve as medicine people
-Healing is done by the patient and every person has a responsibility for his or her health
-Healers serve as facilitators and counselors to help patients heal themselves
Portman, Tarrell A. & Garrett, Michael T. (2006) Native American Healing
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Rybak, C. & Decker-Fitts, A. (2009) Theory and Practice: Understanding Native
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American Indian Heritage Foundation.(2012).
Native American Healing.
US National Library of Medicine. (2010).
Indigenous Native American Healing Practices.
Retrieved 11/16/13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913884/
Native Voices. Medicine Ways: Traditional Healers and Healing. Retrieved 11/16/13.