Native American Medicine

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, United States Pages: 7 (2274 words) Published: September 17, 2013
Jesse Henne
Professor Kurt Siedschlaw
25 March 2013

Medical Cures and Healing Beliefs of Native Americans

The medical cures and healing traditions used by the Native Americans are rather interesting and different compared to modern day Anglo Saxon cures. Native Americans, using their basis of ideas and beliefs, have developed a general idea of naturalistic cures and healing processes. Although the cures and healing processes are much different than Anglo Saxon ideas of curing and healing, the Native American processes tend to work well and even better than many Anglo Saxon cures. Native American medical and healing beliefs and processes are generally based on a more natural curing or purification process than the processes of modern day Anglo Saxons.

Many Native American healing processes have been practiced for around 40,000 years. Different Native American healing traditions have appeared to share roots with different cultures, such as ancient Chinese traditions. Although many of the Native American healing traditions appear to share roots with ancient Chinese traditions, the greatest influence on Native American healing is the environment in which they have lived. The different plants and animals around them influenced their healing practices to be all natural. Another influence on their healing practices was other tribes. The migration of tribes around them allowed the tribes to share their knowledge of natural cures. Trade was also very helpful in Native American healing practices because many of the natural remedies required herbs from surrounding environments or long distances, and being able to trade with traveling tribes saved much travel time and risk.

Although Native American healing practices have proven to be successful, a lot of their traditions have been lost. Many of the practices were driven underground and lost because they became banned or illegal in many parts of the United States. After 1978, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed, and the Native Americans were once again allowed to practice their healing traditions. The long gap without practicing certain healing processes resulted in the loss of many of their practices, however. Even today, there are still difficulties with Native Americans being allowed to perform different ceremonies and rituals because the land serves other purposes. (

Native Americans have successfully lived for many years by using their own idea of natural cures and purification. Native American healing is a broad term that includes different healing beliefs and practices of hundreds of indigenous tribes or North America. It combines religion, spirituality, herbal medicine uses, and purification rituals that are used to treat the indigenous people either medically, emotionally, or behaviorally. According to Lakota Sioux, the basis of natural beliefs and connections comes from the story of the white buffalo. The story begins with a woman appearing during the time of famine. She was wearing a white buffalo skin and carrying a sacred pipe. After appearing to the tribe, she explained to them that the wooden stem was for the trees and everything growing on earth. Her red bowl was to symbolize the flesh and blood of all people and the smoke was the breath of their prayers going to Wakan Tanka, the creator. The woman then presented the pipe ceremony to the tribe, which included offerings made to the four directions while drums were played and sacred songs were sung. The people then began to understand the connection between sky and earth and the unity of all life. Before leaving, the woman said she would return when the time was right and turned into a buffalo, changing colors several times. Finally, she became a white buffalo calf and disappeared. The people followed her teachings and were no longer hungry. Years later, a white buffalo calf, very rare, appeared and changed colors throughout its life. The calf is believed to...
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