Integrative strategies for American Indians

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on integrative strategies when working with American Indian communities. American Indians (AIs) have always had their own systems of health and wellness practices embedded within their lifestyles and rich cultural heritage. The history of the AI, before colonialism, is a story of strong, healthy, thriving AI tribal nations that collectively occupied the entirety of the geographical regions of North America. European and Spanish colonization of AI tribal nations resulted in the forced removal of tribal sovereignty, culture, language, health systems, health and wellness practices and innate life ways. Historical acts of genocide as well as the ongoing intentional erasure of AI tribal life ways and culture perpetrated by Spanish and European settlers contributed to an intergenerational cascade of AI social, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual hardship. Many of the once thriving tribal nations, villages, pueblos, and bands were significantly reduced in number while some were all together eliminated. These pivotal historical events contributed to AI distrust of the United States Federal government, the agency responsible for the treaty obligation to provide healthcare services to AIs. AIs continue to experience health inequity, disparity, and socioeconomic hardship. Despite these intergenerational and tired messages of genocide, discrimination, health disparity, and socioeconomic struggle, AI tribal communities rely on cultural philosophies, teachings and stories as sources of resilience, steadfastness, persistence and health that have enriched and sustained their livelihood. There is a growing awareness and eagerness among AIs, especially younger generations, to reclaim traditional knowledge on ways to sustain and promote health. AIs have engaged in revitalization efforts to better understand health sustaining cultural knowledge. AI communities are exploring ways to operationalize and integrate innate cultural health systems and traditional medicine practices alongside existing mainstream health systems to sustain and promote the health of their communities. A discussion on ancient and present-day AI health systems, significant historical events and accessible, preferred, and culturally aligned integrative approaches and strategies for AI health will be presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIntegrative Health Nursing Interventions for Vulnerable Populations
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030600433
ISBN (Print)9783030600426
StatePublished - Dec 11 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • American Indian health systems
  • American Indians
  • Culture
  • Health inequities
  • Integrative health strategies with American Indian communities
  • Resiliency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychology(all)


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