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Medicine Ways: Traditional Healers and Healing

The Key Role of Ceremony

Ceremony is an essential part of traditional Native healing. Because physical and spiritual health are intimately connected, body and spirit must heal together. Traditional healing ceremonies promote wellness by reflecting Native conceptions of Spirit, Creator, and the Universe. They can include prayer, chants, drumming, songs, stories, and the use of a variety of sacred objects.

Healers may conduct ceremonies anywhere a sick person needs healing, but ceremonies are often held in sacred places. Special structures for healing are often referred to as Medicine Lodges. Wherever they take place, traditional healing ceremonies are considered sacred, and are only conducted by Native healers and Native spiritual facilitators. Non-Natives may participate by invitation only.

In contrast, today, Native powwows have evolved into primarily social and cultural events that feature Native dancing, singing, drumming, regalia, and food. All people are welcome at most powwows.