Tuesday, November 16, 2010


All programs that are designed to help folks, whether it is a hospital, mental health facility, or religious/spiritual service, have a basic ideology about what constitutes health & wellness. This is important because without this operating idea, how would they measure where someone is (e.g., not being healthy) and where they need to end up (e.g., being healthy)?

It is hard to get somewhere -- not knowing where you currently are! An old friend of mine worked at Mammoth Caves in Kentucky for a few years. Now, you may not believe this, but people travel from all over the world to visit and walk through the caves that make up Mammoth Caves. The main entrance, and where all tours begin is located off the main roads in the back woods of KY. Her full time job was to answer the phone and assist those visitors who where lost – and if they needed a fulltime person to do just this – would seem like a lot of folks getting lost. And speaking from experience, the wrong place to become lost is deep inside Kentucky. You might just find yourself driving down a road that dead ends somewhere in the 18th century!  

Anyway, when a lost person called the offices of Mammoth Caves, my friend was there to save the day. So the conversations would be something like, “Hello, I am trying to find the main entrance into Mammoth Caves and I am lost.” My friend would ask the same, first question every time, “Where are you now?”  Most times the reply would be, “I don’t know where I am!” This would leave my friend without the main information needed to bring the lost person into the park. Again, it is hard to get somewhere not knowing where you currently are.

Because my friend was born and lived around that area her entire life, if she did know the lost person’s location, she easily directed them into the main entrance. All she needed was only one piece of information from the person in need – where they are! Once that exact information was obtained, all it took was for those two to work together and follow a proven path. If the lost individual did not know where he was, my friend would have them start describing their surroundings. And again, because my friend knew the area, it did not take long until my friend knew right where he was, where he needed to be, and by working together all would soon be well.   

If we are to arrive at health, we have to know where we currently are. If someone is interested in arriving at health, regardless of where they are now, there are many paths to travel. The main focus in the beginning should be the awareness and agreement that good health exists and finding out exactly where you are now. Once equipped with this important information and with the help of experienced people, you can be on your way to health and wellness.  


Whether you call them American Indians, indigenous people, First Nations Peoples, and/or Native Americans, these original people of the United States are more likely to suffer from poor health-related issues than any other peoples living in the U.S. Lower life expectancy and the disproportionate disease burden exist due to such things as inadequate educational systems, unbalanced rates of poverty, and discrimination in the delivery of health services. There are broad quality of life issues rooted in economic adversity and poor social conditions. I will not burden you with all of the supporting data indicating the disproportionate rates of poor health associated with Native Americans. These data are easily found.

It is essential to note that the Native American Center for Wellness Research and the Three Sister’s Institute works from the belief that all ‘things’ are connected. The individual and his community are connected. These things cannot be seen nor approached as separate or individual conditions. They are connected! Just as the great Aspen trees in the American West appear as individualized life forms, in fact they grow and bloom together as the result of being connected by their roots.  Wellness is determined by an individual and his community’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.  Each of those factors grows and blooms together.  Disease or illness in any one of these areas impacts the wellness of the whole.

So, if someone suffers mentally, that one issue will directly impact on another issue, like spiritual health. The statement of health & wellness as per the Native American Center for Wellness Research and its associates works from the belief that health in all areas of life, (e.g., physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) must be equally considered. Any plan to address the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual conditions of Native Americans and the communities in which they live cannot approach these conditions as isolated systems. A determined joint approach addressing and including all conditions must be designed in order to appropriately implement a plan attempting to resolve the health & wellness issues in Native American communities. 

Unfortunately, our current system seems to address each of these issues one-at-a-time. For instance, a medical doctor does not usually focus on spiritual conditions. As the result of these single focused services, the Native American Center for Wellness Research was established and The Three Sisters Institute begun. The Three Sisters Institute operates from the belief that all things are connected and that health and wellness depends on all things being healthy.

If you have any comments, suggestions or information please share it. I look forward to hearing from you.

Peace, DAP

1 comment:

  1. So pleased to see your blog up and circulating. I look forward to many visits to it and certainly interacting.