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Native American Indians Religious Beliefs and the Impact on Healthcare

In: Social Issues

Submitted By bethjohnson13
Words 882
Pages 4
April 2015

The Native American Indian with Respect to Healthcare and Religious Practices

Carrie Johnson

The American Native Indian culture has used alternative medicine and tribal rituals for many centuries. This culture has used natural remedies to treat and cure diseases and aliments within their tribe. The term “Medicine Man” is coined from the Native American Indian tribes. The person who held this title was generally an elder of the tribe. The inflicted person(s) would seek out the elder or “Medicine Man” to treat their sickness. The tribe will use natural substances and tribal rituals as their source for treating diseases and illnesses. A few examples of natural elements are plants and root extracts from their demographic region. Examples of customary rituals could include: chants, dances and prayers. Another unique custom of the tribe is the involvement of the tribe in rituals to treat the sickness of a tribal member. Cultures that exist outside of the tribe may have some difficulty understanding their cultural beliefs and alternative practices, but these practices have been around for centuries. The following are census facts and demographic statistics of the Native American Indian: “Total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population: 2.9 million or about 0.9 percent of the US population. About 32% of Natives are under the age of 18, compared to only 24% of the total population who are under the age of 18. The median age for American Indians and of Alaskan natives is 26, compared to 37 for the entire nation. States with the highest proportion of American Indians and Alaska Natives: Alaska (19.5%), Oklahoma (12.9%), New Mexico (10.7%).” ( Over the last century access to medical care has changed significantly for Americans and the Native American Indians. Healthcare programs have been implemented and targeted at lower income societies. The following are examples of advocates for the Native American Indian: Native/American Indian Legislation and the Indian Health Service. These legislative actions and foundation(s) have advocated for medical rights of these individuals and in the process have allowed the Native American Indian the ability to seek treatment outside of their culture. The introduction of western medical concepts to the Native American Indian population has assisted these members to medical treatment for illnesses and diseases that may require vast pre-op and post op medical care. Examples of procedures could include but not limited to: ultrasounds, Biopsy, x-rays, blood tests, ECG, ambulatory monitoring equipment, blood thinners that are targeted at diagnosing the inflicting disease. These are all examples of benefits that western medicine can provide to this population. Native American Indians have a high likely hood of certain diseases. One such disease is diabetes and the Native American Indian adult is over twice as likely, to be diagnosed with Diabetes than white adults. ( Now that this targeted population has access to health care, this has allowed for early diagnoses of diseases (ex. Diabetes) and early treatment of the disease. . Native American Indian culture is unique in many ways and one of these unique aspects is in respect to their practice of alternative tribal medicine. If needed the American Indian is allowed to seek medical treatment outside their tribe, but the majority of the population will remain within their culture for medical treatment. The typical treatment that is given for treatment, generally types of alternative medicine (also known as homeotherapy). This type of treatment incorporates different combinations of naturally occurring substances to treat the aliments or diseases. The following are some examples of tribal remedies: Skunk cabbage (to remove phlegm in respiratory diseases), Gentian roots (the root is boiled into a broth to relieve back pains), and Horsemint (mixed with cold water to relive backaches, inflammatory issues, fevers). The preceding examples of natural substances indicate how the American Indians have practiced their of alternative medicine remedies for ages. The acceptance and access to Western medical healthcare for the Native American Indian has been a proven benefit to this culture. The implemented healthcare changes have improved their overall lives by diagnosing, treating, and potentially curing their aliments that was not being obtained by their own cultures medicinal or ritual practices. The Native American Indian has a strong belief in maintaining the body’s inner balance (positive and negative). The belief is that the illness may be as a result from lacking this essential inner balance. Treatment is focused on restoring the inner balance immediately to obtain return their health. In conclusion of the Native American Indians and their cultural practices that could potentially impact their health, a practicing healthcare member must keep these cultural practices in mind when providing care and educating the patient. To obtain a successful outcome, one must attempt to be aware of cultural beliefs of our patients and adapt their beliefs into their individual care plan.

REFERENCE PAGE A) Google. (n.d.). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from cherokee messenger/ herbal remedies. B) Demographics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from C) Office of Minority Health. (n.d.). Retrieved April 6, 2015, from

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