Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

White Buffalo Woman and Native American Medicine

  • David A. LeemingEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_200225

The Medicine

Medicine men and women, medicine bundles, medicine wheels, sweat lodges, sand paintings, and the use of special herbs to cure are all elements of what we think of as Native American tribal medicine. But medicine as practiced in different ways by the more than 500 Native North American tribes involves much more than the curing of illnesses of individuals. Medicine in the Native American context is a spiritual reality, a mystical energy present in certain sacred objects, people, or ceremonial activities. And although medicine men and women do apply their practices to individuals, it can be argued that the goal of all the variant tribal medicines is the physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being of whole communities. In the context of Native American medicine, the terms “psychological” and “spiritual” as used here can be seen to be essentially synonymous.

The Dine (Navajo) medicine man or woman, the hatalii, sings sacred ceremonial songs, sometimes involving complex...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Blanton-Peale InstituteNew YorkUSA