“A fish only discovers its need for water when it is no longer in it. Our own culture is like water for the fish. It sustains us. We live and breathe through it.” – Unknown
The tools included in this section can be used by anyone to build cultural awareness, particularly for self-awareness of the American Indian/Alaska Native broad culture.
Cultural Awareness is the foundation of communication, acceptance and success of providers to AI/AN communities. “Let’s say you’re a social worker or psychologist doing an assessment of an Indian person who talks very quietly and keeps their eyes on the ground,” suggested R. Andrew Hunt, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W., a public health advisor in Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). “That can easily be misinterpreted as low self-esteem, depression, or some other problem, when in actuality that person is just showing respect.” Now CAPT Hunt and a team of U.S. Public Health Service officers and American Indian professionals and community members have created a tool to give disaster responders and health professionals a head start on understanding American Indian and Alaska Native cultures. To order, call SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7. Ask for publication number SMA08-4354, or download the PDF.
These are basic tips for beginning CHRs, they are not specific but important to remember:
It is important for the health care provider to note that each People have their own cultural preferences of relationships and roles. Native People have their own social norms; however some of these are stereotypes and may not be as common and many of the CHRs are familiar with those of their people.