Academic journal article Creative Nursing

The Wisdom of Indigenous Healers

Academic journal article Creative Nursing

The Wisdom of Indigenous Healers

Article excerpt

The wisdom of indigenous peoples is manifest in ways of knowing, seeing, and thinking that are passed down orally from generation to generation. This article takes the reader on a journey through three distinct ways of knowing, specifically as they relate to healing and health. The authors are a Midewanniquay, or Water Woman, of the Ojibway-Anishinabe people of the upper Midwest in the United States and Canada; a lomilomi healer from Hawaii; and an initiated Priest in the Yoruba tradition of West Africa. The philosophies of all three cultures emphasize the importance of spirituality to health and wellbeing (or healing process), but each has unique ways in which it nurtures relationship with the Creator, the earth, and humankind through sacred rituals and healing practices.

Keywords: indigenous; healers; Anishinabe; creation story; Mother Earth; lomilomi; aloha; energy; Yoruba; bounding center; nature-based healing


Dorene Day (Waubanewquay)

I am a member of the Anishinabe Ojibway nation. We are from and still reside in the United States and Canada. This vast area covers the Eastern seaboard and the Eastern providences of Canada, westward through the Great Lakes region and to the upper Midwest states of the United States.

In the worldview of the Anishinabe, health and well-being are derived from living in balance. Balance is achieved by living the good life or Mino Bimaadiziwin. When we live according to our original instructions as the Creator intended, we are in balance and acknowledge where we come from, our Creation Story. Our Creation Story tells us that we are related to all living things: the air we breathe; the water we drink; the food we eat-those that have offered themselves for our sustenance; the ancestral ground on which we walk; the fire that warms us; the Earth where we live; and, above all, the Creator who created us after Creation was complete. All things in life are interconnected because everything comes from the sacred and is acknowledged appropriately as such.

This way of knowing and relating is foundational for living Mino Bimaadiziwin. This philosophy can be summarized as follows:

Our way of being in the world is to gain an understanding of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. We each have our own Creation story. We must gain an understanding of why we practice our ways differently. In our understanding, everything came into existence because our great Creator put it all in motion. It was in this great event unfolding that we find our way of understanding how it is that we came to be, and the gifts that were given to us through these events.

Therefore, Anishinabe believe that illness or ill health comes upon us when we become out of balance. It takes a lot of work to stay in balance, and when we are not in balance, we become ill. Paying attention to our holistic, spiritual selves as well as our other gifts contributes to our well-being. Conversely, not paying attention to our holistic, spiritual selves and other gifts creates imbalance. When we become ill, we must strive to get back in balance. What part of us needs attention? What part of ourselves is compromised? When this view is taken objectively, then the individual has power to actively help address his or her own illness.

A request for healing, as a restoration of balance, is a sacred act on behalf of yourself, your family, your community, your homeland, and the larger universe. When approaching a healer, the individual needs to follow certain protocols. First and foremost, he or she must make an offering of Asemaa (tobacco) to the healer. This offering is done for all manner of requests: for healing, doctoring, counseling, and so forth. This Asemaa is needed for the healer to seek help on your behalf, to petition the Spirit, Giizhay Manitou, our kind Creator.

The healing process and restoring health and well-being are engaged in to return to Mino Bimaadiziwin. …

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