Today, the problem of the spread of heart disease among Native Americans is one of the major threats to the health of this ethnic group. At the same time, many Native Americans are uninsured and, what is more, they do not accept the western medicine. Instead, they prefer using the traditional Native American medicine, which they consider to be more effective in the treatment of their health problems. In this regard, cultural differences between Native Americans and the mainstream culture in the US play the crucial role in the spread of heart disease in the Native American community.
In actuality, the heart disease is one of the major reasons of deaths among Native Americans as well as among other ethnic groups in the US. However, the development of the disease can be prevented, whereas its treatment can be more effective, if advanced, modern technologies and achievements of the contemporary western medicine are used. However, many Native Americans either refuse from the western medicine treatment or cannot afford such treatment. At this point, it is important to take into consideration the cultural identity of Native Americans. They view the western medicine as strange for them. Moreover, they identify themselves as Native Americans, who have suffered oppression and genocide from the part of colonists and their descendants. As a result, they are not confident in western medicine, whereas they are highly confident in traditional methods of treatment developed in terms of the Native American medicine.
At the same time, the relationships and expectations of Native Americans vulnerable to the development of heart disease to the Native American medicine and western medicine are different. To put it more precisely, Native Americans cannot afford or are unwilling to use the contemporary western medicine because they believe this medicine is not effective. Moreover, they associate the western medicine with the whites, who always oppressed Native Americans. At the same time, they are highly confident in the power of their traditional Native American medicine. They have high expectations in relation to the traditional Native American medicine and they have long lasting relationships with the traditional medicine. Their ancestors used traditional methods of treatment and they were considered to be strong and healthy, whereas the western medicine is totally different from the traditional Native American medicine. As a result, Native Americans have low expectations in relation to the western medicine.
In this regard, the cultural empowerment plays a particularly important part because the cultural differentiation of Native Americans from other Americans makes them confident in their own medicine and uncertain in the contemporary western medicine. In such a way, Native Americans perceive their traditional medicine as a part of their culture and regular life. They cannot change it and replace by the western medicine. Such a change would be as absurd for many Native Americans as the change of the contemporary western medicine for the Native American medicine for a white American.
Thus, it is obvious that the cultural background affects consistently the medicine and treatment of Native Americans, including the treatment of such serious health problems as heart disease.
Broome, B., & Broome, R. (2007). Native Americans: Traditional healing. Urologic Nursing, 27(2), 161-173.
Cohen, K. (2003). Honoring the medicine: The essential guide to Native American healing. New York: One World Ballantine Books.