Healing practices are an important part of all cultures. The methods range from pharmaceuticals to surgery to psychotherapy. There is also a wide range of healing methods in Native cultures. Many tribes see a direct connection between illness in an individual and problems in the larger culture. Healing the individual, which often takes place though reconnecting the individual with the tribe, benefits both. The books for this month are all concerned with how Native literature and theater can be used to restore the individual to health by helping them rejoin a larger culture. A healing can also take place in the reader or theatergoer by vicariously experiencing what the protagonist does or by sharing in the autobiographic recounting in works such as Basil Johnson, Indian School Days.
These selections about Healing in Native American Literature and Theater are currently on display in the public reading area of the Library. Please feel free to visit the Library to review these or any other items of interest in the Library and Archives collections. For more details or additional collection information, click on the link labeled Library Catalog Search located in the pull-down menu of the Library tab on the Heard Museum website.
Medicine Shows : Indigenous Performance Culture
Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press 2015
Heard call number PR9188.2.I5 N65 2015
The central theme of this book is how experiencing theater can help the viewer regain health by reconnecting with the larger tribal culture. The book reviews the works of many contemporary Canadian Indigenous dramatists and demonstrates how the plays provide a vehicle for reconnecting with the community and the ancestors.
Landmarks of Healing : A Study of House Made of Dawn
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 1990
Heard call number PS3563.O47 H637 1990
This book is a lengthy review of N. Scott Momaday’s novel, House Made of Dawn, and how it connects the reader to a healing relationship with the natural world. Especially relevant is Chapter 1, “Introduction: Sources of Healing” where it talks about “Healing is the process of achieving wholeness or a state of physical and spiritual balance….”
Reading the Fire : The Traditional Indian Literatures of America
Seattle: University of Washington Press 1999
Heard call number PM155.R35 1999
Mr. Ramsey reviews trickster and origin tales from a variety of tribal cultures. The chapter most relevant to the healing power of tales is Chapter 3 “The Poetry and Drama of Healing: The Iroquoian Condolence Ritual and the Navajo Night Chant.” He talks about how physical ailments have a spiritual implication in many Native cultures and how curing the individual restores the whole community to the proper balance.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen
Leslie Marmon Silko : A Literary Companion
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company 2011
Heard call number PS3569.I44 Z95 2011
In the “healing and health” section of the book, pp. 152-60, Snodgrass shows how many of Silko’s novels have characters who are both in poor health and in a physical setting unlike the tribal culture in which they were raised. In the novel Ceremony, military combat leaves the protagonist physically and spiritually wounded and he is only healed by being reconnected with natural and cultural forces.