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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Community health representative: The first tribally contracted program, since 1968 - American indian paraprofessional healthcare providers

CHR - Native American Disease Etiology

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Native American Disease Etiology

Traditional Native Viewpoint on Disease Etiology and Healing

Within the vast number of tribal nations there are many different beliefs of health and the cause of illness, however there are many similarities between the beliefs of the peoples. Traditionally most Native People view health holistically as a balance between our

• Mental
• Spiritual
• Emotional
• Physical
• Social

states. Health disparities may also result from improper thoughts or behaviors or from other outside forces.

When illness is perceived, a healer is called to diagnose the cause. Although the traditional Native American medicinal practices are not scientifically proven the practice of these beliefs have healed patients; it is important to note that people all over the world have used herbal therapy as a medicine and that the ceremonial ways can be compared to the concept of guided imagery. Many Native People continue to practice tribal religions and traditional healing.

Modern medicine is used more frequently in short term illness but when modern medicine does not work the people call on the traditional ways of ceremonies, prayers and plants. Ceremonies and prayers are believed to treat the whole person, not just the disease; in many cases once these are carried through the patient’s health will improve or at least will feel content that all efforts have been made, usually the use of traditional medicine is complementary with that of western interventions.

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