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The medical practices of Native Americans, namely five different First Nations of North America, reside on the concept of existence of four sacred dimensions of the so called Medicine Wheel. In other words the Medicine Wheel has four directions that are passed during ones…
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Aboriginal People of Canada al Affiliation Aboriginal People of Canada The medical practices of Native Americans, ly five different First Nations of North America, reside on the concept of existence of four sacred dimensions of the so called Medicine Wheel. In other words the Medicine Wheel has four directions that are passed during ones life clockwise: East, South, West and North. Therefore, East represents the beginning of physical journey of a human being in this world of a spring of spirit (to honor the gift of life Native Americans usually smoke tobacco); South represents summer and symbolizes youth or the striving to grow in every possible way (within the framework of this aspect of Medicine wheel Native Americans usually use cedar as a cleansing medicine for body and soul and drink sacred tea); West represents adult stage and symbolizes the heart that helps one learn about the power of change, accept aging and find peace within oneself (within the framework of this aspect of Medicine wheel Native Americans usually eat berries like strawberry as a medicine); North represents rest and wisdom (within the framework of this aspect of Medicine wheel Native Americans usually advice to be mindful about physical bodies). This philosophy differs in some insignificant details from tribe to tribe. To stay fit and healthy both mentally and physically a human being must be in sync with all four dimensions of that wheel.
2. The essential aspects of a human being as expressed in the Four Directions Teaching dwell on the four sacred dimensions of the Medicine Wheel and seven stages of life found on this wheel. The seven stages of life start from the East and go westwards across the Medicine Wheel as a human being moves on with ones life. These stages consist of the good life, fast life, wandering life, planning, doing, truth and elder life.
3. There can be identified four ceremonial practices used by Anishinaabe for healing or ritual purposes. The first one is a smudging ceremony, which is a purification practice used when something gets out of hand at home or at work. According to this ceremony one of four sacred medicines has to be lit, namely the mshkwadewashk, kiishig, sema or wiingash. Talking circle is the second ceremony, according to which a group is to sit in a circle and talk on certain topic (everything that is said must stay in that circle; during the ceremony a feather or one of the sacred medicines have to be passed around the circle four times). Naming ceremony is the third ceremonial practice within which a grown-up person receives its spirit name (during the ceremony one of the sacred medicines, namely sema is used). Fasting is the fourth ceremony, according to which a person fasts to strengthen ones spirit and purify ones mind in order to be able to get messages from the Creator.
4. Traditional medicine of Native Americans is an ethnocentric term introduced by those who have never been a part of this culture and failed to understand the essence of its ceremonial practices. Thus, this term is a misnomer indeed. Healing practices that Native Americans use within the framework of certain ritual ceremonies can hardly be confined within medicine only. These practices serve multiple purposes. Healing is only one of them. Such practices are being followed by Native Americans as the way of self identification as well and passing the philosophy and cultural legacy of ancestors from one generation to another.
5. According to Mikmaq concept of four sacred directions there are seven levels of Creation. The first person created on the surface of Earth was called Glooscap (who was made of dirt, plants, stones etc.) and had to come to life within seven levels of Creation. These seven levels are represented by the Giver of Life, Grandfather Sun, Mother Earth, Glooscap (lying on the ground with his head pointed to the East), Grandmother, Young man or the Nephew and Mother.
6. The concept of balance within the framework of Anishinaabe vision of the world is a key one. The essence of this concept implies the relationship of four constructs, which a person must be able to balance within oneself to be mentally and physically healthy. These four constructs consist of spirituality, community, environment and self (Portman & Garrett, 2006). Spirituality relates to such notions as the Creator, Mother Earth and Great Father. Community implies understanding of family, clan and tribe. Environment concerns daily life, nature and balance, while the last construct, namely self, relates to inner peace, thoughts, passions and values.

Reference
Portman, T. A. A., & Garrett, M. T. (2006). Native American healing traditions. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 53 (4), 453-467. Read More
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