Listen to healing

candelsI listened to the medicine men talk about the power of self-persuasion.

They agreed that focusing on bad health can sometimes lead to bad health.

Your attitude can make a difference and you can set yourself up to indulge in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

One medicine man engages in traditional, indigenous healing. The other in logical positivism and empiricism.

Both bring years of experience to their practice.

My relative relies on years of paying attention–his knowledge is experiential.

Scholars of native science call this indigenous ontology and “local knowledge” because knowing is contextual, place-bound and experiential.

Subjectivity is honored.

My honey, sitting across from my relative, relies on years of paying attention–his knowledge is also experiential.

Modern mainstream medicine derives meaning from positivism and rationalism, in the tradition of Rene Descartes.

Objectivity is honored.

I listen to a conversation that is cordial and respectful, with each healer searching for commonalities.

Each healer takes the other for what and whom he is. No stories. No self-fulfilling prophecies.

We can convince ourselves of the character of an illness and we can convince ourselves of the character of a stranger.

But it’s a mistake to read too much into the story.

[Photo from Notre Dam by the author]


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, ethics, health, Indian, Lakota, native american, Native Science, neuroscience, science, science communication and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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