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Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing (Anglais) Broché – 27 juin 2006

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Can You Be Politically Correct?

Although Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” you are less likely to want to see, smell, or buy a rose if a florist offers to show you “a blood-colored outgrowth of a thorny shrub.” Names do make a difference. Minorities and oppressed people are especially sensitive to the terminology used to describe them or their culture. The same words may mean different things to Native
Americans or to white people, or they may be insulting in one language and either meaningless or used inappropriately in another. For example, no Native American woman wants to be referred to as a squaw, an Algonquian-based insult. A Native American physician does not expect to be called “chief.” Some tribes are designated by strange foreign terms like Gros Ventre (“Big Bellies”), Nez Perce (“Pierced Noses”), or Apache (a Zuni Indian word meaning “enemy”). Native cultural and religious terms are sometimes appropriated by Western businesses for their commercial value. Would you feel comfortable riding in a Jeep Jew or drinking Communion Beer?

I have also seen people go to the other extreme: they try so hard to make every word polite and politically correct that they become tongue-tied, like a centipede that is asked, “How do you move all those legs?” I once met a young white man who had learned Indian sign language from a book and planned to use it when he visited an Indian reservation. He believed that this would demonstrate his respect for tradition. I was sorry to disappoint him: “When Indian people don’t speak one another’s languages, they communicate in English. People are likely to think that you are ‘signing’ because you’re deaf.” I don’t wish to scare you from talking with or about people who are unfamiliar. If you speak with a Native American and are unsure about appropriate terminology, simply ask. Your question communicates respect.


There are problems inherent in any of the terms commonly used by both indigenous and nonindigenous people to designate the original inhabitants of Turtle Island (an ancient indigenous name for North America). In precolonial times, a general term for aboriginal Americans was unnecessary and did not always exist.

Today, as in the past, Native Americans identify themselves by family, community (or band), clan, and nation. A Native American clan is a group of people who recognize kinship because of a special relationship to or descent from a common ancestor or ancestral group. Clans may be named after a deed, characteristic, or totem (Algonquian for “helping spirit”) of the ancestor—for example, the Bad War Deeds
Clan, Long Hair Clan, Bear Clan, Wolf Clan, Caribou Clan, Wind Clan, Salt Clan, or Yucca Fruit Clan. The words nation and tribe are often used interchangeably, though the term nation is generally more appropriate. The word tribe means a social group of numerous families and generations that share a common history, language, and culture. A nation is a tribe that is also a politically distinct entity and has the right to self-determination.

How would an ancient indigenous American identify himself or herself? ACherokee woman living five hundred years ago would not call herself an American Indian. She might say, “I am Saloli [a common personal name, meaning “Squirrel”], an Ani Wahya [Wolf Clan member] Ani Yunwiya [Cherokee], from Kituwah [an ancient town site, near present Bryson City, North Carolina].” Saloli’s people call
themselves Ani Yunwiya, the Principal People, in their own language. In other Indian languages, a tribal designation might refer to the tribe’s lodges (Haudenosaunee, “People of the Longhouse”), a sacred animal (the Absarokee, “Children of the Long-Beaked Bird,” the Raven or Crow), or their lands (Tsimshian, “Those inside the Skeena River” in British Columbia).

Christopher Columbus, a lost sailor discovered by the Taino tribe of the Antilles in 1492, called the indigenous people he encountered los Indios, “Indians,” because these gentle and generous people were una gente en Dios, “a people in God.” Some scholars believe that the term Indian may reflect Columbus’s belief that he had landed in India, an apt indication of his lack of orientation. The English, French,
and Italian colonial invaders who followed him lumped all of Turtle Island’s original inhabitants together as “savages” or other similar terms derived from the Latin silvaticus, meaning “a person of the woods” (silva). By the seventeenth century, Indians became the common designation, although the French continued to use sauvage through the nineteenth century. In 1643, Englishman Roger Williams sum-marized the common range of nomenclature in A Key into the Language of America; Or, An Help to the Language of the Natives in That Part of America Called New-England: “Natives, Savages, Indians, Wild-men (so the Dutch call them Wilden), Abergeny men, Pagans, Barbarians, Heathen”—terms that reflected and reinforced the Europeans’ belief in the moral, theological, cultural, and biological inferiority of America’s original inhabitants.

The tone soon shifted. The new Euro-Americans began to refer to the Native Americans as wild animals rather than wild men. In Indians of California: The Changing Image, James J. Rawls, Ph.D., history instructor from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California, writes that “whites often compared California Indians to creatures that they regarded as especially repulsive”: snakes, toads, baboons,
and hogs. Supported by an anthropocentric theology that placed man at the center of creation, Christians could exterminate “pests and vermin” without com-punction. Similarly, modern soldiers find it easier to wage war against labels—“Nips,” “Gooks”—than against human beings with souls and families. Generalizations and stereotypes also serve political ends, as they allow legislators to promote laws that manipulate the fate of widely divergent people with unique needs and lifestyles while emphasizing American unity and nationalism.

Today, it is virtually impossible to find a universally satisfactory or politically correct term for the original people of this continent. When one of my Cherokee elders was referred to as an “American Indian,” he exclaimed, “I ain’t no damn Indian! I’m a Native American.” Yet most of America’s original inhabitants do call themselves “Indians” among themselves. A Cree friend calls himself “Indian” but re-minds
me that in Canada, the preferred generalization is “First Nations.” “Yet,” he tells me, “I prefer Native American in literature. The term feels more elegant.” So he becomes an “Indian” in everyday life and a Native American in books. A consistent designation is important for clarity. I do not wish to perpetuate confusion by referring to the “aboriginal, indigenous, Indian, Native Americans of the First Nations.” Frankly, I like to call the indigenous people “the People,” a term consistent with the words used for original Native nations in their own languages. In the Cree language, indigenous North Americans are collectively referred to as iyiniwak, “Peoples.” The names of many individual tribes, when translated, also simply mean “the People.” An Innu (“the People” of Labrador, Baffin Island, and Québec) elder and friend, N’tsukw, has a definition that is a real gem: “We call ourselves the People because we know that we are only just people, two-leggeds, not better or higher than any other form of life or any other aspect of Creation.” In this book, I have opted for elegance and generally referred to the People as Native American. I will, however, sometimes use the terms Indian, First Nations (when referring specifically to Canadian Indians), or indigenous (when my discussion is relevant to indigenous people of other lands).


What makes a person a Native American? This is an important and controversial topic. Is a person a Native American because of his or her ancestry, culture, or political status, or because of self-identification, which may or may not be verifiable? Who is entitled to live on tribal lands or share tribal revenue? Whose voice must be heard when consensus decisions are made either within Indian nations or between
Indian nations and foreign governments? Who has the right to carry a Native American passport?

Criteria that establish Indian identity may include membership in or adoption by a recognized Indian family, a specific percentage of Indian “blood” (blood quantum, in legal terms), or residence on tribal lands. Among some tribes, to claim tribal membership, you need only trace your genealogy to a Native American ancestor. (By this definition, former American President Bill Clinton is Cherokee.)

The United States government has frequently issued statutes that attempt to define Native ethnicity in order to clarify the rights of its “domestic dependent nations.” The results have been uniformly disastrous. For example, during the early nineteenth century, many Native people did not register on U.S. government– sponsored tribal rolls. They did not recognize United States jurisdiction or care about the government’s attempts to quantify them. Today, their descendants are clearly Native American, though not in the eyes of the U.S. government. Entire tribes, such as the forty-thousand-member Lumbee of North Carolina and the Duwamish of Washington (tribe of the famous Chief Seattle), remain unrecognized and are defined by the United States as nonexistent, often because of ignorance of
a tribe’s history and continuity; a lack of distinct, treaty-guaranteed lands; and greed for title over contested tribal homelands and their resources.

The Native American identity issue was highlighted in 1990 with the passage of the United States Indian Arts and Crafts Act. The act made it illegal for non-Indians to sell goods that are labeled “Indian-made.” The law was designed to protect both consumers and Native Americans and has a clear application when you turn over an “Indian-made” pottery bowl and discover that it was “made in Japan.” The law, however, also allows the U.S. government to prosecute Native Americans who do not meet United States definitions of identity. A descendant of a nonenrolled Native American or a member of a Native American community who does not have the requisite blood quantum can no longer legally sell “Indian-made” jewelry at a pow-wow.

The real issue here is not what determines Indian identity but who determines it. The question of Indian identity should not be in the hands of United States courts in the first place but rather decided by Native American nations and communities. Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) scholar Taiaiake Alfred brings wisdom and clarity to the issue:

Respecting the right of [indigenous] communities to determine membership for themselves would promote reconstruction of indigenous nations as groups of related people, descended from historic tribal communities, who meet commonly defined cultural and racial characteristics for inclusion.


Many of the English names for Native American nations are based on derogatory terms used by the enemies of those nations. For example, the names Iroquois and Sioux are derived from words that mean “enemy.” The word Mohawk, one of the six nations that comprise the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Tuscarora), is based on an Algonquian word that means “cannibal monster.” They call themselves Kanien’kehaka, People of the Flint. Some tribal designations are based on insulting remarks about a tribe’s way of life, such as Eskimo, derived from a phrase meaning “eaters of raw meat,” or Naskapi, meaning “uncivilized.” In this book, I use tribal names that are widely recognized by both Native and non-Native scholars as respectful designations (see the accom-panying table). I hope that other people who refer to Native American nations will continue this custom and adopt designations preferred by the tribes. In order not to confuse the reader, however, I will sometimes use less exact terminology when referring to peoples who have distinct words for each of their many bands or who use common tribal names among outsiders but different, more personal terms among themselves. (The Apache, Arapaho, and Comanche, for example, call themselves the Inde, Inunaina, and Nerm, respectively.)

From the Hardcover edition.

Revue de presse

“This landmark book is a stunning tour de force. Ken Cohen has crafted a comprehensive yet accessible compilation of the theory and practice of Native American medicine. Honoring the Medicine is the rarest of books.”
Author of God, Faith, and Health

“Ken Cohen writes from a place of beauty, truth, and integrity. He inspires us to reconnect with traditional ways for healing the earth and ourselves. [Honoring the Medicine] is a brilliant work.”
Author of Soul Retrieval

“Anyone wanting insight into the world of Native American healing will be wise to read this remarkable, penetrating work. This is a valuable addition to the canon of healing.”
Author of Healing Beyond the Body

From the Hardcover edition.

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Il n'y a pas encore de commentaires clients sur Amazon.fr
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Amazon.com: 4.7 étoiles sur 5 42 commentaires
50 internautes sur 51 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Feels Like Good Heart, Good Intention 5 avril 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
There are some fluffy 1-2-3 recipe books out there about Native America, and worse-how to become an instant shaman manuals. This is NOT one of those. And if you entertain angry feelings that here is another non Native American ripping off someone else's culture, well, please take a slow deep breath of purifying sage, think some loving thoughts, and set aside your politics and your doubts. Kenneth Cohen has written a beautiful book, that emerges from a place of honoring Indigenous cultures and the Native Americans he has known over his lifetime of seeking, as he says- his "roots". Respect and appreciation for the interconnectedness of life and a wholistic understanding of healing and Spirit. The fact that he associated himself with wise and beloved Elders like Rolling Thunder, Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, and Grandmother Keewaydinoquay says a lot too. He writes with love and tenderness about these Elders, and others, sharing some of their wisdom and spirit. I knew one of the abovementioned Elders very well, now watching over us from the Spirit World, and coming across Mr Cohen's words and references to them, brought a smile to me- as I could tell by the tenderness and care with which he described them, that he had been a good grandson,and had listened well.

The author goes to great detail to clarify some common stereotypes of the Native world, to teach respect and consideration for Native American traditions, Peoples, and the natural world. He furthers understanding of our role as human beings, and how to live in a way that honors and respects everything around us. The tranformative power of the natural world and its relationship to healing. Harmony. Surrrounding subtle energies. The book is something of a blueprint to live in a kinder, more compassionate way, closer to our Mother Earth and with reverence for the past(Ancestors), the present, and the future(our grandchildren who will inherit this world). The plants and animals can survive quite well without us pitiful 2 leggeds, but, we cannot survive without them.

It is a great story of Kenneth Cohen's personal journey. There is something here for everyone. I am certain he put down tobacco and prayed before and during this writing- there is a flow of the work of Spirit here.Thank you for a sensitve sharing of these teachings, and being a bridge between people.

Ahau! Migwech, (thank you)

69 internautes sur 73 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Honoring the Medicine" 25 août 2003
Par Laurance Johnston - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I have participated in many Native-American circles organized by the author in the Colorado Mountains. These were invaluable, paradigm-expanding experiences, especially for a conventionally trained scientist such as myself. However, as such a scientist, I thirsted for written resources that could supplement the extensive, but often soon forgotten, knowledge imparted by the author in his discussions and demonstrations. This book satiated this thirst.
Given the book shares the author's knowledge accrued through several decades of study and reflects the wisdom of many of the 20th Century's most prominent Elders, it is a must read for those interested in learning about the heart and soul of Native American healing. Although much informative, thought-provoking material was provided on specific healing practices, it is this big-picture, heart-and-soul context that the specifics are place within that is the book's foremost strength. True understanding of any of the specifics would be greatly limited without this overarching mind-body-spirit context. As reflective in all superior books, the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts.
Developing this big-picture context was clearly augmented by the author's extensive in-depth, scholarly knowledge of 1) many other healing traditions, including allopathic, Eastern, and assorted indigenous healing approaches, and 2) diverse spiritual perspectives and practices. Although most alternative-medicine authors have in-depth expertise on their specific subject, relatively few have Kenneth Cohen's broad, integrative perspective that not only expands our healing spectrum, but, more importantly, unifies it. Anyone, such as myself, that is a product of mainstream biomedical thinking will very much appreciate the author's integrative, big-picture viewpoint.
In the appendix, the author discusses the many remarkable elders, such as the legendary Rolling Thunder, who have mentored him over the years, and whose thought, wisdom and influence is reflected throughout the book. You cannot develop a good appreciation of Native American, mind-body-spirit medicine without considering its spiritual components. Because many of these spiritual components were astonishingly outlawed until 1975, about when the author started his studies, in-depth awaremness of Native American healing has been obscured until relatively recently. Through this book, the author has taken this obscured knowledge - not just the superficialities - acquired through oral and experiental transmission to the few and transmuted it to a form readily assimilated into the mass consciousness. It is a considerable achievement.
37 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A truly valuable book 3 février 2004
Par Valerie Fletcher Adolph - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Once in a long time a person is privileged to read a book that contains wisdom and power on almost every page. This is such a book. The writer, who is not by birth a Native American, has not only studied but lived the philosophy and practice of Native healing. He presents the reader with a multitude of different aspects of Native healing, not least of which is the healing of the spirit and the bases for establishing a truly healthy lifestyle.
I find it presumptuous to attempt to review this book. It contains important lessons about values, spiritual qualities and our connection to the web of life and it reminds us that healing is wellness of the mind and spirit as well as of the body.
If these are important to you, you will find this book truly valuable.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must read for anyone interested in shamanic traditions 1 janvier 2005
Par Daniel J. Benor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Ken Cohen brings us an outstanding overview of Native American healing. Cohen, also known as "Bear Hawk," is an adopted member of the Cree Nation, and has studied with many medicine persons over four decades. This clear and lucid summary explains the medicine traditions and approaches of many of the Native American nations.

As Cohen explains, this book will not teach you to be a healer in this tradition because Native American healing is not learned from books. What it will do is to give you a breadth and depth of appreciation of the rich folklore that has much to offer those of us who are raised in the (relatively) sterile tradition of Western medicine which addresses the disease the person has, often ignoring the person who has the disease. The point is well made by Cohen that the person who is the healer, together with the person seeking the healing, shape and individualize the medicine that is needed for that specific healing.

Cohen writes with great wisdom and sensitivity, sharing his voluminous knowledge and many years of experience in studying and practicing Native American healing. He brings a lightness to this monumental work by sharing many personal stories of his encounters with the wise elders and healers of many Nations.

This is a must read for anyone interested in shamanic traditions.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Honoring the Medicine - by Cohen 29 septembre 2005
Par Phillip A. Rice - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I feel that this is one of the best books on the market on Nativer American Spirituality and teaching..Mr. Cohen has written it in terms that can be understood by anyone with a heart to opea and read..


Phillip Gray Wolf Rice

Munsee Lenape
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