Religion and Healing in Native America
Pathways for Renewal
by Suzanne J. Crawford O'Brien, ed.
May 2008, 236pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99013-8
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-07187-4
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Through first-hand accounts, personal experience, and narrative analysis, the authors provide readers with a rare glimpse into the religious and healing practices of Native Americans.

What it means to be healthy or to heal is not universal from culture to culture, from religion to religion. Indeed, in many cultures religion and healing are intimately tied to each other. In Native American communities healing is conceived as the place where ideas about the body and selfhood are brought to light and expressed within healing traditions. Healing is defined as self-making, and illness as whatever compromises one’s ability to be oneself. This book explores religion and healing in Native America, emphasizing the lived experience of indigenous religious practices and their role in health and healing. Indigenous traditions of healing in North America emphasize that the healthy self is defined by its relationship with its human, spiritual, and ecological communities.

Here, Crawford brings together first-hand accounts, personal experience, and narrative observations of Native American religion and healing to present a richly textured portrait of the intersection of tradition, cultural revival, spirituality, ceremony, and healing. These are not descriptions of traditions isolated from their historical, cultural, and social context, but intimately located within the communities from which they come. These portraits range from discussions of pre-colonial healing traditions to examples where traditional approaches exist along with other cultural traditions-both Native and non-native. At the heart of all the essays is a concern for the ways in which diverse Native communities have understood what it means to be healthy, and the role of spirituality in achieving wellness. Readers will come away with a better understanding not just of religion and healing in Native American communities, but of Native American communities in general, and how they live their lives on an everyday basis.


"This book is a welcome addition to the body of scholarship about the medical beliefs and needs of Native Americans. The well-written chapters discuss such diverse diseases as cancer, diabetes, and alcoholism, as well as such diverse healing modalities as Sundance, storytelling, and the use of peyote. ...Even for readers who do not offer direct care to persons of Native American descent, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into a world rarely encountered."—Journal of the American Medical Association/JAMA, March 4, 2009

"Authors from a variety of academic disciplines and cultural settings provide a better understanding of how religious traditions, concepts, and practices frame healing and healing experiences in diverse historical and social contexts. Religion and Healing in Native America provides insight into contemporary approaches to healing in American Indian communities around the United States."—MultiCultural Review, March 1, 2009

"This book contains an interesting mix of personal stories with academic study. Fascinating first-person interviews are coupled with detailed historical analyses of particular communities and the contemporary health issues that plague them. It is recommended for academic libraries, particularly those with strong collections in Native American spirituality."—Catholic Library World, June 1, 2010
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