Many of the inequalities in the health of the Aboriginal people can be attributed to the
erosion of the Aboriginal culture.(chp.2). Restrictions placed on the cultural practices of the Aboriginal people ultimately led to the abatement of the Aboriginal traditional medicines.(p88). Losing their freedom to practice traditional therapeutics, the Aboriginal people eventually had to adapt to the culturally inappropriate ways of western medicines. The purpose of this paper is to examine the advantages of Aboriginal healing methods for the Aboriginal people, as well as to explain why these traditional methods continued to persist long after western style medicines were introduced.
Advantages of Aboriginal Healing Methods for the Aboriginal People
Traditional healing methods were based upon traditional Aboriginal spirituality beliefs.(p18). This spiritual belief system stated that "people exist within this context as worthy creatures, but no more worthy than any other being. To live secure, healthy lives through acknowledging and respecting the spiritual as well as the physical world, because there is no difference between the two."(p71). The whole Aboriginal culture was based around these beliefs. Everyone in the community was treated as equal with acknowledgment and respect. Therefore those who deemed to follow the cultural beliefs had no difficulty in understanding the healing practices of the people. This appreciation of equality and respect was an advantage to the Aboriginal people, especially within their healing methods.
Illness was treated in many ways but the main goal was to achieve a sense of balance and harmony.(p82). Applications of herbs and roots, spiritual intervention, and community wide ritual and ceremonies were all therapeutic practices.(p71). "It was the healer who held the keys to the supernatural and natural worlds and who interpreted signs, diagnosed disease and provided medicines from the grassland, woodland, and parkland pharmacopoeia."(p18). The healers knowledge of herbs and roots and ways to administer and diagnose had been passed down from generation to generation.(p85). Healers stood as an advantage for the Aboriginal people. "Trust and a personal relationships would naturally build between the patient and the healer."(p77). This must have been comforting for the Aboriginal people, being aware of what they were taking and trusting their elders and ancestors with the guidance. Aboriginal medicines were based upon their beliefs, the healers and medicine men were reassuring and comforting members of the community since they could communicate with these spirits. Even though they were usually men and elders ,
they were not seen as having more power, just higher spiritual ability-they were treated as equal and respected the same as any other.(p73). The healers also respected the physical environment form which all medicinal herbs and roots were taken. If something was taken a gift was always left as a sing of respect and acknowledgment- for example tobacco was commonly left when herbs were taken from the ground as a gift to the creator.(p100). I see this as an advantage to the Aboriginal people because it taught value and meaning to life-not to be too greedy as the white men soon came to be, depleting many of the Aboriginals' medicinal herbs and roots for their own use.(p99) There was one thing that the white man could not take away form the Aboriginal people - their beliefs. Even though the White man tried it was something that the Aboriginal people kept as their own. This, I see as an advantage to the Aboriginal culture because the medicinal practices were based upon these beliefs, and they could not be stolen from them.
One other advantage to the healing practices of the Aboriginal people was the formation of bonds and ties with one another through the ceremonies and rituals that were performed.(p73). An illness was a communities responsibility. Everyone...
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