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Plains Indians Presentation




Traditionally being healthy and a whole person were essential to living a good life.

Some tribes visualized health as a medicine wheel with four parts – spiritual, mental, physical, & emotional.

In order to be healthy, all aspects of the medicine wheel had to be in balance.

Another concept is that man is three-fold – mind, body, & spirit.

Wellness is harmony in body, mind, & spirit.

Wellness (or unwellness) was (and is) often a choice.

Slide 13

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

A physical disability is irrelevant to a person’s state of wellness.

Wellness can be accomplished in a wheelchair or without a leg. If the body is healthy, if the mind is sharp, if the individual is following their beliefs and choosing to be in harmony with their environment, then a physical disability is irrelevant to wellness.

How to deal with a physical disability is not something an Indian would think about. Instead, an Indian would probably look at how to enhance an individual’s ability to fulfill his or her role within the community.

Slide 14

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

We are all responsible for our state of wellness; with the way we promote harmony between ourselves and the people we meet.

It is not the events that happen to him [man] that create his harmony, but his response to those happenings. Every human chooses the responses he makes, and thus in this way, he chooses whether or not to be in harmony. Being able to stand firm in his harmony is a priceless accomplishment for the Indian, for it means the disruptions of the world cannot affect him. (Locust, 1985, p. 11)

Slide 15

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

Health and the Disabled (Continued)

This state of harmony is like a protective shield keeping us from dangers inherent in negative or disharmonious situations.

In the Indian belief, it is each person’s responsibility to

keep this protective shield strong and beautiful, not only

for his own well-being, but for the well-being of the tribe.

(Locust, 1985, p. 17)

When looking for ways to help disabled people on a reservation ask, “What can we do to help our people fulfill their roles within the community?”

Slide 16

Traditional Leaders

Traditional Leaders

They cared about people, not just family, but the whole tribe.

They respected the people around them.

They served the people. The leaders often would not eat until everyone else in the tribe had eaten.

They were honest. They did not lie.

They were courageous. They dared to do what needed to be done.

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