Lena Thompson, MPH
National American Indian and Alaska Native ATTC
Native Americans used stories like this one to explain how things come to be. These stories are valuable because they tell a truth about humans who are searching for answers and explanations, as all humans do. As behavioral health professionals, it is important for us to acknowledge and celebrate this way of knowing. Spirituality has been associated with recovery from substance use disorders in Native Americans, yet much of the research that has been published on Native American substance use disorder treatment does not assess spirituality before, during, and after treatment (Greenfield, Hallgreen, Venner et al., 2015). As professionals who specialize in technology transfer, we are charged with the responsibility to make more than recommendations. We must encourage programs that incorporate spirituality into their programs to engage in evaluation. Since each tribe has different spiritual beliefs and practices, there may not be one perfect model for the rest to follow, but we can build a foundation of promising programs and practices from which others can learn.
For many years, American Indian and Alaska Native communities have been invisible to the dominant culture; their cultures were considered savage, resulting in a total lack of understanding of their very lengthy cultural heritage, ceremonies, and medical practices. During this month, I hope that Native Americans can take this opportunity to stand, visible to the rest of us, in their light. But like small piece of the sun Grandmother Spider brought to us, let’s encourage that light to grow and continue to shine with us throughout the year.
Our guest blogger:
|Lena Thompson, MPH|
Erdoes, R., & Ortiz, A. (1984). Grandmother Spider Steals the Sun. In American Indian myths and legends (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 154-155). New York, New York: Pantheon Books.
Greenfield, B., Hallgren, K., Venner, K., Hagler, K., Simmons, J., Sheche, J., . . . Lupee, D. (2015). Cultural adaptation, psychometric properties, and outcomes of the Native American Spirituality Scale. Psychological Services, 12(2), 123-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ser0000019