The Role of Traditional Medicine in Joseph Boyden’s “Three Day Road”

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The Role of Traditional Medicine in Joseph Boyden’s “Three Day Road” The roles of medicine, and its effects on the characters in Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road, address the power that both traditional and modern methods had on Native Americans. When we think of medicine and healing, the images that usually come to mind are needles, pills, or doctors. These are recognized as more contemporary forms that we have become accustomed to today. The forms of healing that are not usually associated with medicine today are the traditional ways of the Native Americans. The role of traditional medicine is a reoccurring theme throughout Boyden’s novel, where he addresses its power, effectiveness, and spiritual significance in the healing of his main characters. The awareness of traditional methods that Boyden shares attempts to explain and acknowledge that the Native Americans ways of healing were sometimes just as effective as modern medicine. “These methods were often viewed by colonists to North America as nothing more than superstition and inferior to the sophisticated medicinal practices of the Europeans.” “In fact many actually benefited from and survived diseases through use of Native American treatments” (T. A. A. Portman and M. T. Garrett). The many roles that traditional medicine served in “Three Day Road,” truly embodied the beliefs and values of the Native Canadians and aided in unmasking Boyden’s characters to reveal their true identity. According to Laurie J. Schwing, “Native American healing is largely based on the idea that all living things are interconnected and that the mind, body, and spirit of humans are not to be treated separately.” She goes on to say that “spirituality is at the core of their human condition and must be treated along with the physical ailments that arise.” The contrast between this traditional and modern medicine is seen symbolically through Xavier and Elijah in the way they handle both their physical and mental pain. These two...
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