Native Culture, Health, and Education: An Annotated Bibliography
Below is a listing and description of key sources in the field of health and wellness in Indian Country.
Brave Heart, M. (2003). The Historical Trauma Response among Natives and Its Relationship with Substance Abuse: A Lakota Illustration. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 35(1), 7-13.
Brave Heart describes what is meant by the term “historical trauma” from a cultural and medical perspective. This is a complex, important, and often utilized concept. While historical experiences vary across people and tribes, this is a good introduction from a person who has dedicated a significant amount of work to this field. The author also provides clear examples from a contemporary Native community.
Duran, E. (2006). Healing the Soul Wound: Counseling with American Indians and Other Native Peoples. New York: Teachers College Press.
Duran and colleagues have spent many years practicing and seeking to understand the intersection of traditional and medical approaches to treatment. They have a lot of experience with veterans, and embrace the understanding that healing the spirit is essential in helping Native people.
Jernigan, V.B., Peercy, M., Branam, D., Saunkeah, B., Wharton, D., Winkleby, M., et al. (2015). Beyond Health Equity: Achieving Wellness within American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Journal of Public Health, 105(S3).
This is a publication from leaders within the U.S. federal health research and public health system, the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It presents health statistics on Indigenous peoples around the world, and describes the national effort NIH is making, primarily through grants, to improve the health of American Indian people. It also describes the process and importance of community-based participatory research—a more contemporary, respectful approach to medical research.
Marshall, J. (2001). The Lakota Way: Stories and Lessons for Living. New York: Viking Compass.
This is just one collection of old Native stories. There are many other collections, and you may be better served hearing them in person from those with old knowledge from your own community. Nevertheless, this particular volume is included on this list as one great book with many life lessons—and it reminds us that for many generations storytelling was the medium that our people passed on wisdom for living well as individuals, families, and communities.
Mehl-Madrona, L. (2005). Coyote Wisdom: The Power of Story in Healing. Rochester, VT: Bear & Co.
Mehl-Madrona is a clinician who has developed interventions to help Native people overcome mental and physical difficulties. While trained and licensed according to the Western medical model, he challenges European ways of defining illness and healing. Specifically, Mehl-Madrona has developed and utilized therapeutic storytelling as a mode of research and treatment.
Smith, L.T. (2012). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, 2nd ed. London: Zed Books.
This book takes a deep look at modern concepts of “research,” helping readers to see that research need not be defined by western European definitions and methods. The authors discuss concepts such as “discovery” and “claiming,” and argue that the decolonization of research methods will help to reclaim control over Indigenous ways of knowing and being. It includes case examples and discusses the role of research in Indigenous social justice. It is an exciting and liberating book that helps us to remember there are no limits to research.
Trujillo, M.H. (1994). Indian Health Manual: Statement of Policy for the Traditional Cultural Advocacy Program. Retrieved April 27, 2016, from https://www.ihs.gov/ihm/index.cfm?module=dsp_ihm_sgm_main&sgm=ihm_sgm_9408
Though this is an older memorandum from the former IHS director, it is a critical document in that it clearly states that the Indian Health Service system supports traditional and cultural treatment approaches. From a policy perspective, it illustrates that it is possible to seamlessly include these within IHS systems—and some tribes have done exactly that. For example, some health service centers work directly with traditional healers.
University of North Dakota, School of Medicine & Health Sciences (n.d.). Indians into Medicine. Retrieved April 27, 2016, from http://www.med.und.edu/indians-into-medicine/
This is a link to the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) Indians into Medicine Program (INMED). The University of North Dakota is the primary branch of the INMED program; however, there are others in medical schools throughout the country. INMED seeks to increase the number of Native American healthcare providers and improve the quality of healthcare received by Native people. It provides preparatory and support programming. There are similar programs in related fields such as Indians into Psychology, American Indians into Nursing, and Indians into Geology. Their “Pathways” program directly assists students transferring from tribal colleges into INMED programs.
Walls, M.L., Johnson, K.D., Whitbeck, L.B., & Hoyt, D.R. (2006). Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Preferences among American Indian People of the Northern Midwest. Community. Mental Health Journal, 42(6), 521-535.
This study asked 865 parents and caretakers of tribally enrolled youth about their preferences when it comes to healthcare providers. Results showed that respondents strongly preferred traditional informal services to formal ones. In addition, formal services on the reservation were preferred to off-reservation services. This is a critical study because it quantifies Native peoples’ subtle, yet deep mistrust of medical institutions, and supports the need for traditional approaches to health. The authors conclude that “… to better serve the mental health and substance abuse treatment needs of American Indians, traditional informal services should be incorporated into the current medical model.
Whitbeck, L.B., Walls, M.L., & Welch, M.L. (2012). Substance Abuse Prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 38(5), 428-435.
This is a comprehensive review article written by well-respected Native American health researchers at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. These researchers reviewed hundreds of studies of substance use prevention programs in Native communities. While some programs “adapted” for Native communities were promising, the authors’ primary conclusion was that a crucial shift is needed to recognize and empower “grass roots” efforts, such as horse culture and other programs naturally developing from tribal strengths and traditions. Whitbeck et al. “…urge a paradigm shift from adapting European-American prevention science ‘best practices’ to creating cultural ‘best practices’ by working from inside American Indian and Alaskan Native communities.”
Jessica White Plume, Ph.D., M.P.H.(Oglala Lakota) is the director of the Agriculture Department and Land Grants at Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College in New Town, North Dakota. She is also author of “Four Legged Healers: Horse Culture as Medicine.”