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Panel: Facing Health Care Challenges; Lived Integrative Care Stories

Our 2008 Ways of Knowing Story

Other Symposium Features:

Traditional Stories: Healing for All People

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Paul Schultz

Paul Schultz, Ojibeway, Traditional Healer, White Earth Reservation

“I am not a healer—the healers are the Spirit.  The best I can do is to be a vehicle.”

Paul greeted us and introduced himself not only to his fellow two-leggeds, but to the Spirits, reminding all of us of the sacred space in which we reside.  He reminded us of the importance and power of laughter, offering us the opportunity to be “poop in the woods.”

The first tribe to do its own self-history was in the early 1970’s.  Paul was an active part of the vocal Indian movement at the time.  Then and now, he raises the question “Why is it Indian people and those who are not Indians have so much difficulty communicating with each other?”  This questions was raised to their elders, and after several months, they answered—this contrast of basic world views:
White people see the world as a top down pyramid, with people at the top, getting the best.  There is a sense of human dominion over all other life.

Indians turn that pyramid on its head, with humans at a point at the bottom of the pyramid, being surpassed by animals, plants, microbes and single celled creatures, and the basics of all life

To achieve healing for the Earth, we need to bring respect to all life, without any dominion OVER. 

Part of Paul’s work as healer is to be a clown.  When working with people with wounded souls, laughing can create trust and opening.  He challenges the contemporary desire to do studies, which seek the repeatable, the questionable, the measurable…because much of healing does not work that way.  He illustrated his points with stories, stories of comedy, of tragedy, of healing:  Back when all the plants and animals could talk to each other, the creator told them he was contemplating bringing in a 2-legged animal.  “It will be pathetic,” said the Creator, “needing help from each of the animals just to sustain its life.”  All the animals agreed.  “But—I’m going to give the 2-leggeds an ego.  It will be prone to make mistakes.”  Animals were still willing to make the sacrifice.  Initially, 2-leggeds gave thanks to the plants, the animals…but over time, 2-leggeds decided that they were better than the non-humans.

Now, in 2008, human’s have nearly destroyed the gift we were given.  The only way to save it is to listen, and act now.  It may be our last chance.


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