Native American Culture and Health Care Beliefs – Social&Family Issues Example

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"Native American Culture and Health Care Beliefs" is an excellent example of a paper on social and family issues. Native Americans are the endemic people of North America made up of many tribes and found in Alaska and Hawaii. The migration of Europeans to the Americas in the 15th century led to the building up tension between the two communities and ethnic wars. Furthermore, the Native Americans lost many of their people because they had not acquired immunity against the new diseases brought by the Europeans. American Indians were oppressed by the colonizers and the treaties they made with them were violated and broken (Calloway, 2001).

They had a value system in place before being colonized, which consisted of four commandments; respect mother earth, respect the great spirits, respect our fellow man and woman, and finally respect for individual freedom. The last commandment was violated by the incoming Europeans as they took away their freedom and way of life.   Health Care Beliefs In Native America, there is the belief that is centered on interconnectedness, meaning that everything on earth is connected and therefore has a spirit.

Medicine refers to remedies, actions, and any type of prayer used to honor the sacred being. From the Native American point of view, medicine is about curing the ailing person rather than healing, and the traditional healers oversee these operations with their aim being to make a person whole again. Traditionally, Native Americans are of the opinion that sickness is due to spiritual troubles, and if a person falls sick then the person is imbalanced, and his or her thoughts are negative. The healers believe that conditions, which are inherited from the parents to the child, are hard to treat and the main cause is an immoral lifestyle led by the parents. The main purpose of traditional healers is to restore an ailing patient back to a state of being whole, and a healthy and pure state of mind, body, and soul.

The healers combine rituals, religion, herbal medicine, and spirituality to treat ailing people. Practices widely used by the traditional healers include the utilization of purifying methods, herbal remedies, symbolic healing, and shamanism to clean the body and soul.

In rituals, family and friends can be used to invoke the spirits to aid in the healing of the sick person. Natives seek the direction of medicine men and healers for spiritual purposes, and to be reassured about something, the place to go is to the traditional healers. The Native Americans use modern medicine to treat the White man’ s illness and use Indian medicine to treat Indian diseases. According to the American Indian people, every person on earth is here for a reason and when the reason is attained, the person dies.

Upon a person’ s death, grieving is not held for a long time since it acts as an obstacle to the dead, as it prevents them from entering the new world.   Differences of Health Care Beliefs The Native Americans believe in cooperating with one another to achieve any obstacle while the American's competition reigns supreme; the principles of capitalism are applied. As a sign of respect, eye contact is not maintained in health institutions, and it becomes difficult to diagnose a patient. As a sign of honesty and earnestness, eye contact is maintained, and diagnosing a patient becomes easy with the Americans.

To the Native Americans listening is preferred to speaking, therefore; it becomes difficult to know what ails the patient. Emphasis is placed on expressing what a person feels among the Americans therefore the ailing person will communicate with the nurses and doctors. According to Native Americans, the emphasis is put on non-verbal communication and observation while the Americans emphasis is placed on communication, which is considered very important since a patient is able to open up. Native Americans do not criticize the person administering the health services directly thus it becomes difficult to rectify ineffective situations in health facilities.

Conversely, in the American culture, criticism is expressed directly, with the reason being that the patient will be able to practice democracy. Personal information concerning a Native American is not easily given hence it becomes difficult for the nurses and doctors, as they will not know the history of a person in terms of health.   The attitude of Native Americans is that the future will take care of itself while Americans put their trust in health insurance and future savings (Simmons, 2007).

Withdrawal from a situation is usually a sign of disapproval for Native Americans and dislike about something is expressed directly for the Americans. Nurses Interventions Nurse’ s interventions are the activities set about by a nurse to boost the treatment of a patient while considering their heritage. A number of steps have been taken to ensure that the Native Americans are catered for in the American health institutions. The steps include: The rights of Native Americans to believe, express, and exercise their traditional religions are to be respected and preserved when dispensing health services. The freedom to practice native religion if need be. To grant requests if a Native American needs the services of a traditional healer. Religious beliefs are to be followed if desired, for example, matters concerning autopsy and burials. There is no digging into the patient’ s beliefs to find out what their heritage or way of life. The main reason for intervention to ensure the disease is cured and a nurse should make sure respect is maintained and both systems complement each other, that is religion and medicine for the sake of the patient. Conclusion The majority of Native Americans do not trust the health care system in place, the main reason being past injustices oppression and broken treaties.

They view the system as being led by greed and not genuine care of patients. The mortality rate among Native Americans is undervalued due to the wrong identification of race. The Indian health service handles all information concerning American Indians they collect data about them and analyze it fully. They have various beliefs, which have made the numbers of their patients low.

For example, their alcohol consumption is low since they are rooted in their traditions making their engagement in some activities unacceptable. This makes their health complications because of some activities like drug abuse minimal hence, they are few cases reported of illnesses. Some Native Americans still use the traditional healing practices and shun western medicines. Some of them are deeply rooted in their traditions, and they believe that using Western medicines is not appropriate as it will make them depressed. Therefore, for medical practitioners to take care of them they need to consider their heritage in order to attend to them satisfactorily (LaVeist, 2009).


Begun. J., and Luke, D., and Pointer D. (2006). Strategy in Healthcare Delivery. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Calloway, C. (2001). First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History. New York: Bedford/St. Martins

LaVeist, T. (2009). Public Health. London: Oxford Publishers.

Simmons, D. (2007) Native Americans in the U.S. New York: Lights Publishers.

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