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The Sun Dance and The Sunrise Dance Essay

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The Sun Dance was usually performed in a time of great crisis for an individual or a tribe, and involved a considerable amount of goods and a significant physical sacrifice. Performed in a large ceremonial tipi, the dancers would appeal to the Almighty through dance and sacrifice. These dances would be performed for many reasons, but one of the crises could be an illness in the family, in which case the dancers would seek aid from Thunder, voice of the Almighty.
Another Dance was the Sunrise Dance, which was both a medical and celebratory dance. Celebrating a girls transition into womanhood, a Sunrise dance would be performed as a way of helping guide the young woman in being a productive member of the tribe, as well as provide her with a mentor and a companion. However, there were also prayers of good health, harmony, and peace that accompanied the Sunrise Dance. These prayers were an important way to ensure that the young woman was able to be a productive woman, and have healthy children.
Furthermore, a common aspect of Native American medicine was the extensive use of sweat lodges. These places, used as a means of purifying the body, were very important for both the culture and the practice of medicine. Before many of the sacred ceremonies and dances, the participants would enter a sweat lodge in order to purify both their bodies, by removing impurities and toxins, and their spirits, by removing evil spirits and restoring harmony. Many times Native American medicine men or women would use sweat lodges to treat patients.
Much of the Native American knowledge of medicine was unfortunately lost during bans by the government of the United States. In 1882, the United States government began the process of banning all Native Am...


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...e of the major perspectives of Native American medicine are making a comeback. For a long time western medicine became focused on treating only the body. Yet, with all the technological advances in surgery, medical imaging, drugs, and diagnostics, patient satisfaction is lower than it has been in many years, and even survival rates are dropping for some diseases. The transition back to holistic medicine has been gaining traction, with more patients seeking out chiropractors, naturalists, and holistic physicians. There has also been a return to treating not only the body, but also the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of a patient. This return to holistic medicine has been strongly influenced by Native American medicine and culture, and it appears that even after hundreds of years, there is still more to learn from the Native American medicine men and women.





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