Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest

Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest

Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest

Coming Full Circle: Spirituality and Wellness among Native Communities in the Pacific Northwest

Synopsis

Coming Full Circle is an interdisciplinary exploration of the relationships between spirituality and health in several contemporary Coast Salish and Chinook communities in western Washington from 1805 to 2005. Suzanne Crawford O'Brien examines how these communities define what it means to be healthy, and how recent tribal community–based health programs have applied this understanding to their missions and activities. She also explores how contemporary definitions, goals, and activities relating to health and healing are informed by Coast Salish history and also by indigenous spiritual views of the body, which are based on an understanding of the relationship between self, ecology, and community.
nbsp; Coming Full Circle draws on a historical framework in reflecting on contemporary tribal health-care efforts and the ways in which they engage indigenous healing traditions alongside twenty-first-century biomedicine. The book makes a strong case for the current shift toward tribally controlled care, arguing that local, culturally distinct ways of healing and understanding illness must be a part of contemporary Native healthcare. nbsp; Combining in-depth archival research, extensive ethnographic participant-based field work, and skillful scholarship on theories of religion and embodiment, Crawford O'Brien offers an original and masterful analysis of contemporary Native Americans and their worldviews.
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Excerpt

As a fourth generation Oregonian I identify deeply with the landscape, culture, and history of the Pacific Northwest. My most vivid childhood memories are of hiking, camping, and canoeing in the Cascade Mountains and along the Oregon coast. And my most powerful moments of being spiritually awake always took place on a ridge top, after a good hard climb: an updraft drying sweat, the inspiration of an amazing view. From an early age I was drawn toward religious traditions rooted in natural places and had a curiosity about Native traditions of the region. As a small child I was introduced to the people and culture of the area through the usual modes of tribal museums and art galleries. And I went to school with Native students, though within the Portland public school system of the 1970s and 1980s such students were rarely inclined to talk about their cultural identity, and I did not know enough to ask. My grandfather, a depression-era migrant to the Northwest from Oklahoma, told us what little he knew about his own Native heritage, and it fed my initial scholarly interest in the subject. As an undergraduate at Willamette University and later as a graduate student in comparative religions I was repeatedly drawn to Native traditions, both because of my own heritage and because of a deep commitment to social and ecological justice, concerns that I felt were exemplified in the history and contemporary experience of Native Americans.

This particular project began on an afternoon in Santa Barbara, California, when I opened a newspaper to read about the Shoalwater Bay tribe on the Washington coast, who were confronting a medical and spiritual crisis on their reservation. From 1988 to 1999 the Shoalwater people had been experiencing staggeringly high rates of preg-

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