Sample Research Paper on Indigenous Ways of Healing


The indigenous people, Native Americans, such as the Chicana (or Chicano) have had practices and schemes that they were employing to bring healing and guarantee the health and fitness of the people from time immemorial. The majority of academicians and researchers have had the tendencies of romanticizing the medical situation of the indigenous people prior to the start of the colonization period with affirmations that the Native Americans never suffered from any serious diseases or mental health disorders. However, an enormous body of research has shown that the indigenous people in reality faced a broad scope of psychological and physical health problems before the arrival of the colonizers (Falimirski, Gonzalez, Rodriguez, & Wilberger, 2003). Most significantly, nevertheless, is the fact that the indigenous people had methodical systems and practices that they were using for healing and every one of them was generated from the indigenous notions of health and fitness. It had just been after the colonial period that the Western ways of doing therapy on indigenous people started having a rising interest and application in treating their psychological and physical problems. Why are indigenous ways of healing more effective than Western ways of doing therapy on indigenous people? The major focus of this research paper is to demonstrate that indigenous ways of healing are more successful when compared to the Western ways of treatment.

Physical and Mental Health Problems of the Indigenous People

Many studies affirm that the indigenous people in America indeed suffered from both psychological and physical health problems before their contact with European colonizers towards the end of the 5th century (Pizarro & Vera, 2001). Nevertheless, the natural forces, etiology, and the presence of such medical challenges considerably vary from the majority of the mental and physical medical problems witnessed in many indigenous groups currently. A considerable aspect for the eruption of health challenges was the contact with the colonizers (Velázquez, Ortega, Rojas, González-Oliván, & Rodríguez-Baeza, 2015). Over and above emergent physical medical problems and communicable diseases, for instance, tuberculosis and flu, most researchers affirm that the legislated attempts at cultural genocide have had tremendous and lasting effects on the mental well-being of the majority of indigenous people presently. This is demonstrated by the rising levels of trauma, drug abuse, suicide, and hostility when judged against the non-indigenous people. Though the indigenous people had the understanding and practices of treating their health problems before the colonial era, the newly emerging health problems, the heritage of mental health problems emanating from colonization, the banning of some indigenous ways of healing, and the existence of Western ways of doing therapy have led to intricate, sometimes terrible situations for the majority of the indigenous people in North America such as the Chicana/os.

Effectiveness of Indigenous Ways of Healing As Compared To Western Ways of Doing Therapy on Indigenous People

The indigenous ways of healing for Native Americans date back thousands of years when the numerous indigenous groups gained the understanding that through a mixture of herbs and roots, in addition to different natural plants they would generate effective treatment for a broad range of mental and physical health problems. Nevertheless, such practices of healing were not the only practices used by the Native Americans in treatment (Avila & Parker, 2000). Attributable to the existence of over two thousand indigenous groups in North America, the treatment processes differed broadly from one community to the other, encompassing different rites, ceremonies, and a varied affluence of remedial knowledge. Though there did not exist an absolute means of treatment, unlike the Western ways of doing therapy, the majority of tribes had the conviction that health was an appearance of the spirit, in addition to a constant practice of remaining powerful physically, mentally, and spiritually. Such power and well-being, in addition to ensuring harmony with oneself, the people around, the surrounding environment, and God, could ward off harm and diseases. Every individual had to play a part for her/his well-being, and every conception and deed had consequences, encompassing diseases, disability, trauma, and misfortune. It was only when harmony was made correctly that their health would be reinstated.

For the indigenous people, herbs played a significant function in their treatment practices that extended past the physical health into the concerns of harmony and spirituality (Peña, 2003). Contrary to the Western ways of doing therapy, the herbs and roots, in addition to other natural items that were employed in treatment were affordable since they were collected from the surrounding environment and led to a broad scope of cures. Once the Europeans reached the United States over five-hundred years ago, they got shocked to find Native Americans receiving effective treatment for injuries and diseases that themselves deemed deadly. In most perspectives, the indigenous ways of healing were greatly superior to the Western ways of doing therapy (Gonzales, 2012). Nonetheless, for the indigenous people, they did not have treatment practices for the new diseases that emerged with the arrival of the Europeans, for instance, smallpox and measles. Since the Native Americans had never suffered such diseases before, they resulted in the death of thousands of them in the course of the few centuries that followed (Acevedo-Polakovich, Chavez-Korell, & Umaña-Taylor, 2014).

The effect of the newly emerging diseases was not just the death of many indigenous people but also the destruction of pools of knowledge and wisdom regarding the indigenous ways of healing as they headed to the grave with the death of the healers. Nonetheless, regardless of the disappearance of several vital details regarding the indigenous means of treatment, some have exited to date and have been used by both the Native and non-Native Americans. To prove the effectiveness of the indigenous ways of healing over the Western means of doing therapy, the majority of contemporary medications are founded on the herbs, roots, and plants that were employed by the indigenous people long ago. This shows that were it not for the loss of some information with the death of healers, there would be presently even more effective means of treatment (Duran, 2014). Presently, the wave of medical theory is progressing towards the recognition and reverence of all aspects of an individual such as spiritual and psychological well-being. Therefore, the indigenous ways of healing are once again gaining popularity with everyone. Moreover, unlike the natural herbs used in indigenous means of healing, the Western ways of doing therapy, have been associated with addictive aspects, side effects, and perniciousness.


The indigenous people such as the Chicana/o had schemes of bringing healing and restoring the health and fitness of the people; they suffered a broad scale of psychological and physical health problems. Most notably, they had methodical practices such as the use of herbs and roots that were effective in treating their health problems. One way of proving the effectiveness of the indigenous ways of healing over the Western means of doing therapy is that the majority of current medications have turned to the use of herbs, roots, and plants that were employed by the indigenous people long ago to overcome such things as side effects and toxicity.



Acevedo-Polakovich, I. D., Chavez-Korell, S., & Umaña-Taylor, A. J. (2014). US Latinas/os’ ethnic identity context, methodological approaches, and considerations across the life span. The Counseling Psychologist, 42(2), 154-169.

Avila, E., & Parker, J. (2000). Woman who glows in the dark: A curandera reveals traditional Aztec secrets of physical and spiritual health. New York City: Tarcher.

Duran, E. (2014). Healing the soul wound. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Falimirski, M. E., Gonzalez, R., Rodriguez, A., & Wilberger, J. (2003). The need for head computed tomography in patients sustaining loss of consciousness after mild head injury. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, 55(1), 1-6.

Gonzales, P. (2012). Red medicine: Traditional indigenous rites of birthing and healing. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Peña, E. (2003). Reconfiguring epistemological pacts: Creating a dialogue between psychoanalysis and Chicano/a subjectivity, a cosmopolitan perspective1. Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society, 8(2), 308-319.

Pizarro, M., & Vera, E. M. (2001). Chicana/o ethnic identity research lessons for researchers and counselors. The Counseling Psychologist, 29(1), 91-117.

Velázquez, A., Ortega, M., Rojas, S., González-Oliván, F. J., & Rodríguez-Baeza, A. (2015). Widespread microglial activation in patients deceased from traumatic brain injury. Brain injury, 1(10), 1-8.