The Sacred Circle and the Four Directions In American Indian Healing: A Historical Analysis
American Indian people of North America have a unique and varied history perpetuated through oral tradition and legend. These traditions continue to remain a strong part of the present way of life for these people in spite of 500 years of European colonization, expansion, assimilation and outright genocide. Numerous deleterious effects resulting from European contact currently plague an estimated 2,448,000 registered Indian peoples, consisting of alcohol abuse, diabetes, suicide, despair and poverty. This becomes a heavy burden for all to bear, including the healthcare system. Of the many great challenges facing the healthcare system in North America today, is how to appropriately manage the consequences of this trauma throughout history in a culturally sensitive and compatible fashion. The purpose of this research is to explore the historical application of time-honored American Indian models incorporating the Sacred Circle and the Four Directions in traditional healing ceremonies. The aim is to apply this information to nursing practice through development of a new model and assessment tool incorporating both traditional and modem elements for the purpose of providing culturally competent care to this population.