Combination of Western Medicine, Traditional Healing Being Used in Some American Indian Tribes
More American Indian tribes are blending traditional healing methods with Western medicine for treatment of various illnesses, the AP/Indian Country Today reports.
According to Joy Dorscher, director of the University of Minnesota's Center of American Indian and Minority Health, American Indian tribes could not legally perform traditional healing practices -- which include pipe ceremonies, sweat lodges, herbal remedies and retreats with elders -- until the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act was established in 1979.
Combining traditional healing practices with Western medicine has steadily increased over the last 10 years, she added. Marilyn Cook, an American Indian physician who practices on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, said that providing traditional healing methods in hospitals and clinics enable traditional healers to "have more access to doctors and drugs now than we've ever had."
Cook added that many of the ailments that afflict American Indians -- such as alcoholism, diabetes and lower life expectancy -- are the result of environmental stress and poor diet.
'Diabetes is up because stress is up. When stress is up, blood pressure is up; there's more sugar in the bloodstream. First Peoples have seen their environments polluted; they've seen their fresh food sources replaced by processed and fast foods. Physicians don't know how to deal with these problems except to prescribe drugs," she said. She added, "Western medicine is good. We can't do without it. But we have our own ways of healing. We have our own ways of looking after ourselves. We sometimes forget that" (Kates, AP/Indian Country Today, 6/20).