Traditional Medicine and Restoration of Wellness Strategies

  • Dawn Martin Hill Cultural Anthropology, Academic Director Indigenous Studies, McMaster University
Keywords: Traditional medicine and healing, Indigenous knowledge, intervention and prevention, historical trauma, holistic and inclusive approaches, partnerships of empowerment in restoration of culture and wellness strategies


The overview of literature provides emergent themes on the topic of Aboriginal health, culturally oriented interventions and prevention strategies. Recommendations are also provided on how to apply indigenous knowledge and traditional medicine approaches in the intervention for at risk Aboriginal populations or communities in crisis. Through a literature review of indigenous knowledge, it is proposed by several Indigenous scholars that the wellness of an Aboriginal community can only be adequately measured from within an indigenous knowledge framework which is a holistic and inclusive approach that seeks balance between the spiritual, emotional, physical, and social spheres of life. Their findings indicate that high rates of social problems, demoralization, depression, substance abuse, and suicide are prevalent in many Aboriginal communities and must be contextualized within a decolonization or self-determination model. The evidence of linkages between the poor mental health of Aboriginal peoples and the history of colonialism is key to improving the wellness in communities. Conversely, there is sufficient evidence that strengthening cultural identity, community integration, and political empowerment contributes to improvement of mental health in Aboriginal populations including at risk youth and women. The interconnection of land, language and culture are the foundations of wellness strategies. The overview clearly suggests adopting new strategies for intervention and prevention, and learning from historical wrongs to ensure future policies support of the restoration of traditional practices, language and knowledge as a means of developing strategies for this generation’s healing and wellness.