Native American Folk Medicine

With more than 2,000 tribes of indigenous people in North America, the healing practices varied widely from tribe to tribe, involving various rituals, ceremonies, and a diverse wealth of healing knowledge. Perhaps the most well known of these ceremonies is the peyote ceremony.

Peyote Ceremony

Health as an Expression of the Spirit

Most tribes believed that health was an expression of the spirit and a continual process of staying strong spiritually, mentally, and physically. This strength, as well as keeping in harmony with themselves, those around them, their natural environment, and Creator, would keep away illness and harm.

Referred to as healers, Medicine Men, or Medicine Women by their tribes, they have also been called “Shamans” by people of European descent, though this term was not used by the Native Americans. The medicine Man was also a priest in addition to being a doctor. Believing that disease could be caused by human, supernatural, or natural causes, the healer was equipped to treat illness in any of these categories. Masks, herbal remedies, and musical instruments were often a part of healing traditions. Many of these traditions were focused around cleansing.The video below shows a demonstration of the peyote ceremony. The participant is a mainstream-medical doctor.

Peyote Ceremony Demonstration