By Finesse Love/reporter
The diet and healing practices of Native Americans have always been closely attuned to nature, a government professor told NE students Nov. 20.
In Native American Healing: Alternative or the Real Tradition?, Lisa Uhlir said Native Americans believe everyone is responsible for the balance and imbalance within each individual and the community.
“This includes animals, plants, the earth, the air and water,” she said.
What people take from the earth and use could be considered good or bad depending on how pure the product is and the motive behind the person who has the product, Uhlir said. For example, dried peppermint increases oxygen intake, and other parts of the plant can be used for different health issues.
“Native healing is different than Western healing because diagnosis isn’t a list of symptoms, perhaps a test and then a one-size-fits-all medication or prescription,” she said. “Native healing is holistic in that it incorporates your physical, mental and spiritual well-being.”
Nature also has spiritual use. Burning sage or cedar can cleanse an area of negativity.
“The place that you occupy is filled with the vibrations and emotions that fill that space,” Uhlir said. “You have to purify and cleanse your space.”
Native Americans believe a balanced mental well-being and an awareness of surroundings, people or even clothing is an important part of life. Understanding their impact helps maintain a healthy lifestyle, Uhlir said.
“All of this intuitive or feelings would be an important part of Native healing because you need to make these minor adjustments,” she said. “Be aware of these minor things that have large effects on your mental well-being.”
Uhlir said all things have uses and power. Ginger increases metabolism and clears sinuses. Lavender decreases restlessness and anxiety while chives has Vitamin C and potassium.
“When we use herbs, plants and stones to heal us, we have to respect their power,” she said. “Always stay as close to fresh and raw as possible. This gives the entity more power.”
Being in a great mental and physical state, eating the right things and knowing their effects on the body are important for the mind and spirit, Uhlir said.
“Make these everyday adjustments part of your long-term life plan and it will open the door to a deeper understanding of Native healing,” she said.