The major difference between Native American healing and conventional medicine, both in the past and present, is the role of spirituality in the healing process. Native Americans believe that all things in nature are connected and that spirits can promote health or cause illness. Therefore, it is necessary to heal not only the physical parts of an individual, but also their emotional wellness, and their harmony with their community and the environment around them. In addition to herbal remedies, the community often came together to help an ill person in ceremonies, dances, praying, and chanting.
Native American Tools and Traditions
- Animal Totems: The appearance of birds and animals, either in reality or dreamtime, are considered to be totem messengers offering spiritual guidance.
- Sweat Lodges: The Native American sweat lodge orpurification ritual cleans and heals the body, mind, and spirit.
- Dreamcatchers: The earliest dreamcatchers (sacred hoops) were crafted for children to protect them from nightmares
- Feather Fetishes: Fetishes are sacred objects used as a tool to facilitate an awakening into your whole self, used in prayer, or utilized for protection and healing.
- Prayer Ties: Prayer ties are offered to The Great Spirit in exchange for blessings.
- Smudge Sticks: Using a smoking smudge wand for purification is part of many Native American traditions.
- Ceremonial Peace Pipes: The Native American pipe is smoked in a ceremonial or ritual to call upon the four elements and give an offering to the Great Spirit.
- Curanderismo: Blending and evolution of Native and Hispanic healing techniques involving herbs, sweats, diet, and magic.
- Medicine Wheels: Each direction of the medicine wheel offers its own lessons, color association, and animal spirit guide.
- Talking Sticks: Passing the talking stick from speaker to speaker is a respectful way to communicate and share opinions. This tradition is especially helpful in keeping disagreements from getting out of hand.
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