Vol 30 No. 2 (2011)
Evolution of Protocols in Traditional Healing Practices and their Effects on the Practice of Healing [+] 127-133
Foremost in traditional views among Aboriginal people was the role of specially-gifted individuals, usually called medicine people (or, sometimes, shamans). Adapting this knowledge to the modern intellectual environment of medicine is a difficult but essential task. In this article, firsthand experience on these issues is explored through the work of a traditional healer who is also an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Medicine.
Toward the Renaissance of Aboriginal Spiritual Culture: Intellectual Advances in Alberta [+] 135-153
Despite the still-lingering negative image of Aboriginal traditions, the fact is that significant advances have been made in Canada to lift the discussion to another level and to place Aboriginal spiritual perceptions and attitudes into dialogue with Canadian intellectual life. This movement is in tandem with a general sense of renewal and engagement within the Aboriginal community itself...the community itself in renaissance. We deal here with some recent initiatives in Alberta that demonstrate how Indigenous viewpoints are beginning to be addressed by the academy and wider public. Critical, too is the notion expressed by Aboriginal people that the rise of their traditions is a way of addressing pressing social and medical problems. This analysis focuses on two areas of discussion: Aboriginal law and the incorporation of traditional notions into health sciences and medicine. It specifically reviews the approach by traditionalist Wayne Roan in the Albertasource website, examines the health initiatives of the Centre for the Cross-Cultural Study of Health and Healing and initiatives undertaken by Sundance chief and healer, Clifford Cardinal in the curriculum in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. It also calls attention to the University of Calgary’s important initiative under the guidance of Peigan physician Dr. Lindsey Crowshoe. The renaissance continues with some of the advances made when traditional healers from across Canada gathered at the University to discuss the boundaries of sharing traditional knowledge with medical institutions. These elements can only be perceived as symbolic of a significantly wider movement.
The Indigenous Knowledge Documentation Project-Morrison Sessions: Gagige Inaakonige, The Eternal Natural Laws [+] 155-169
The purpose of this article is to introduce two Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Elders/Traditional Teachers/Traditional Healers/Ceremonial Leaders and their teachings related to Gagige Inaakonige, The Eternal Natural Laws. It is through their link to the teachings of the past, their knowledge of traditional ceremonies, their proficiency in their Anishinaabe language, and their spiritual gifts that they are strengthening the youth and people of all ages seeking spiritual renewal or to regain what was lost or taken from them.
This article compares and contrasts several data sources that enumerate the religious or spiritual preferences of Canadian First Nations peoples, exposing trends and discussing inconsistencies between the findings of the Canadian Census and three other contemporaneous data sources. It then examines the growing degree of penetration that Aboriginal spiritualities have in such communities, its relationship to community well-being and asks whether it is empirically possible to claim that, indeed, we are witnessing a revitalization movement of Aboriginal cultures and spiritualities.
The Aboriginal populations of the western coasts of Canada and the US have been engaged in the current revitalization of traditional maritime cultures for over twenty years. The canoe societies of tribes ranging from southern California (Tongva and Chumash) to the Coastal Tlingit in British Columbia utilize their traditional canoes as exemplars of both indigeneity and their individual tribal values. Engaging in paddling events as embodied religious practice and spiritual teaching tools for young people, canoe societies challenge their communities to choose healthy physical lifestyles and interpersonal behavior, and to claim a presence in contemporary US and Canadian society. This article engages these issues, using the maritime revitalization processes of the Chumash Indians of California’s central coast and the Makah Nation of Neah Bay, Washington to argue for the significance of cultural performance in the development and maintenance of a functioning Native religious identity in the assertion of modern contemporary Indian authenticity.
Western feminism has been used by Aboriginal and Métis women to assert their gender rights within Aboriginal cultures. However, issues of what exactly Aboriginal women’s issues are, and who gets to discuss them is under contention. Defining Western feminism and Aboriginal women’s exclusion from it, is followed by a discussion on how Aboriginal and Métis women are using Western feminism within various Aboriginal Algonquian cultures to assert their rights and this is building tension between Aboriginal women with a Western feminist view, and traditional Aboriginal women. The focus is largely drawn from my experience in Cree culture, with the broader issue of feminism discussed within the context of Native cultures.
The Mouse Woman of Gabriola [+] 235-248
The Mouse Woman of Gabriola is an image carved into a boulder on the small island of Gabriola, off the west coast of Canada. The “grandmother” spirit depicted in the image is important to west coast native groups who believe that this spirit is dedicated to restoring order and rectifying injustices, particularly those involving young people. The Mouse Woman also appears to have healing powers that defy normal scientific explanation. This article attempts to understand this type of “spontaneous healing” by exploring factors such as the role of healers, the role of faith, mind/brain/body interactions, the placebo response, the ability of individuals to tap internal and external sources of healing energy, and the role of religious icons in healing. The arguments made in this article will come as no surprise to most Aboriginal medicine people who are quite aware that a healer must have a good understanding of not only plants and their medicinal qualities, but human psychology, the power of suggestion and ritual, and even the worth of dramatic elements. Thus traditional healers are often more sophisticated than mainstream medical researchers who have only recently begun to appreciate the significance of phenomena such as role of the mind in healing.