American Indians on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations and in Rapid City, South Dakota, face some of the most difficult challenges of any indigenous population. The counties that make up Pine Ridge are among the poorest in the United States with unemployment estimated at 80%. This economic catastrophe is compounded by centuries of oppression, misunderstanding, marginalization, and neglect; it has taken a serious toll on the physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing of all who live there.
Though Native people throughout North America suffer disproportionately from cardiovascular disease (CVD), tuberculosis, diabetes, cancer, substance abuse-related diseases, motor vehicle accidents, unintentional injuries, and homicide and suicide, these Great Plains Tribes have the highest rates of all. Native peoples in Minnesota, though somewhat better off economically, also face enormous challenges, compounded by feelings of alienation from their traditional cultures as well as the dominant white society.
Tribal communities are doing their best to mobilize themselves to deal with these challenges, combining western medicine with the wisdom and practices of traditional healing and attention to the needs of individuals, with strengthening the resources of families and communities. Still, the obstacles are formidable and the level and extent of the suffering discouraging.
Now, these Native communities, on and off the reservation, have asked CMBM to train their leaders in our model so they can use it throughout their health, mental health, educational and social welfare organizations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota – so they can make it their own. Read about how CMBM is serving Lakota peoples, in this article from the Lakota Country Times.
I do a lot of work with battered women and those sexually assaulted, those dealing with depression, as well as suicide survivors. The rates of children and young adults committing suicide are extremely high and rising. Two-thirds of women I see in the clinic have been sexually assaulted, and 90% of them have been battered in their life time.
I’m a suicide survivor, my son committed suicide at age 19. Our traditional belief is that healing the mind and spirit will help heal the body, and I believe your program will help us do that; the Mind-Body Medicine program is in-line with our Native ways.
Our children need to become more resilient as they become young adults, so that they can deal with life issues instead of resorting to suicide. They need to learn life skills.
Angel Wilson, FNP (family nurse practitioner)
Rosebud Indian Health Service Hospital, Lakota tribal member
Self-Care in the Native American Communities
“Welcome my daughter, welcome my sister” An interview with Linda EagleSpeaker
Read an in-depth interview with Linda Eagle Speaker about how she uses mind-body medicine and the small group model with Native women who were trafficked.
The Impact of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine
At the invitation of Lakota elder Basil Brave Heart, CMBM faculty have offered free self-care workshops for over three years on Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian Reservations, and in Rapid City. Community leaders and health professionals from many organizations, including hospitals, schools, detention centers and health boards, attended these workshops.
Key educators and health professionals believe the approach will significantly enhance their daily work as well as their relations with their families and communities. They believe practicing the skills will reduce stress, improve coping skills, and enhance resilience throughout health, mental health, educational and social welfare services.
During this time, CMBM has also begun work with Native elders living in Minneapolis, forging a close partnership with the Minnesota Indian Womens Resource Center. Currently two of the elders, Linda Eagle Speaker and Donna LaChapelle have completed CMBM certification. They are combining our approach with traditional healing ceremonies in a creative synthesis which is bringing hope and healing to trafficked girls and homeless women. We hope it will be a model for work with Native peoples throughout the Midwest and elsewhere.
See our mind-body medicine techniques in action with Native American communities at Leech Lake Tribal College, led by CMBM Certified practitioners Linda EagleSpeaker and Donna LaChapelle with CMBM Clinical Lead for Native Programs and Senior Faculty Kathy Farah, MD, and Lora Matz, MS, LICSW, made possible by generous support from The George Family Foundation’s Catalyst Initiative.