21 photos
Native American Medicine

The healing traditions of Native Americans go back for thousands of years, as the many indigenous tribes of North America learned that by mixing herbs, roots, and other natural plants, that they could heal various medical problems. But, remedies were not the only part of the Native American healing process.

With more than 2,000 tribes of indigenous people in North America, the healing practices varied widely from tribe to tribe, involving various rituals, ceremonies, and a diverse wealth of healing knowledge. While there were no absolute standards of healing, most tribes believed that health was an expression of the spirit and a continual process of staying strong spiritually, mentally, and physically. This strength, as well as keeping in harmony with themselves, those around them, their natural environment, and Creator, would keep away illness and harm. Each person was responsible for his or her own health and all thoughts and actions had consequences, including illness, disability, bad luck, or trauma. Only when harmony was set right, could their health be restored.

American Indian Medicine Man

American Indian Medicine Man

Apache medicine cap and fetish

Apache medicine cap and fetish

Arikara Medicine Men, 1908

Arikara Medicine Men, 1908

Blackfoot - Making Sweet Grass Medicine

Blackfoot - Making Sweet Grass Medicine

Blackfoot - Medicine Man Performing his Mysteries

Blackfoot - Medicine Man Performing his Mysteries

Cheyenne Peace Pipe, 1907

Cheyenne Peace Pipe, 1907

Dakota Sioux - Man with calumet, 1907

Dakota Sioux - Man with calumet, 1907

Dakota Sioux - Medicine Man, 1907

Dakota Sioux - Medicine Man, 1907

Hidatsa Medicine Man, 1908

Hidatsa Medicine Man, 1908

Medicinal Plant Map, 1932

Medicinal Plant Map, 1932

Medicine Man With Elaborate Body Painting

Medicine Man With Elaborate Body Painting

Medicine man with patient

Medicine man with patient

Medicine Wheel With Feathers

Medicine Wheel With Feathers

Navajo - Sand Painting, 1905

Navajo - Sand Painting, 1905

Navajo giving the medicine

Navajo giving the medicine

No-Ah-Tuh, Medicine woman, 1913

No-Ah-Tuh, Medicine woman, 1913

Piegan Medicine Bags

Piegan Medicine Bags

Piegan Medicine Man and Pipe, 1910

Piegan Medicine Man and Pipe, 1910

Two Whistles, Crow Medicine Man

Two Whistles, Crow Medicine Man

Winnebago - Medicine Dance, 1853

Winnebago - Medicine Dance, 1853