Medicines, in the mainstream sense, are compounds or chemicals which are used in the prevention or cure of illness. However, there are also things we call “good medicines” that we have available to us here at Six Nations which can ease our minds, ease anxiety, anger, and depression, and help bring a positive attitude and sense of good purpose to our lives. They help us in living well. These aren’t something you simply ingest as much as they’re gifts given to us for our greater good, with a broader and richer meaning.
Over the years, our traditional games and sport have changed with the times. That does not make them any less powerful in terms of developing a good mind, a healthier lifestyle, and a sense of accomplishment. Lacrosse, as an example, was declared the national sport of Canada in 1859. But, to members of the Six Nations community, the sport has a greater meaning as one of the good medicines available to us. Some of it is inborn – given to us at birth, allowing for the gift of great agility and natural talent to flourish. Some of it is taught over time, giving rise to great confidence and technique in those who wish to explore it. An excerpt from the description of the book entitled, “The Creator’s Game: Lacrosse, Identity, and Indigenous Nationhood,” reads as follows: “While the game was being appropriated in the process of constructing a new identity for the nation-state of Canada, it was also being used by Indigenous peoples to resist residential school experiences, initiate pan-Indigenous political mobilization, and articulate Indigenous sovereignty.” Our traditional games have been used for centuries to not only combat issues but also to help us in living well and bringing stability to our lives.
Research shows that what you choose to eat has a profound effect on your overall health. And, while certain foods may trigger poor health, we have been given food as good medicines, offering both strong and protective qualities. Although diet alone should not replace all other methods of creating and maintaining a healthy and positive life, our traditional foods have been found to have both preventative and curing properties for our minds and bodies. Eating whole foods have been found to be beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels, providing vitamins, antioxidants, and cancer-fighting nutrients, and preventing conditions that have been known to affect our bodies as we age. Eating vegetables and fruits, grains that we grow and process ourselves, as well as proteins and fats found naturally has been proven to affect our bodies and minds in powerful ways, keeping us on a path of living well. Our traditional foods were not simply meant to sustain us, but to gift us with the ability to move throughout our life in good ways with good minds.
Traditional Knowledge for the Care of Our Mind, Body, & Spirit
As the modern health care system has evolved, we have continued to recognize the relevance of our traditional knowledge as forms of medicine and healing. We continue to think about and make use of what has been working in as good medicines in our culture for years. They can be used on their own or incorporated with conventional healing practices to form a holistic plan for patient-focused care. And, it can involve working on our own minds and bodies to not only physically heal, but also spiritually, mentally, and emotionally heal and prosper. Our traditional approaches seek to assist us in living well, using medicines found from the land and water as well as powerful ceremonies that promote wellness. And, while some will balk at traditional means, many of today’s modern medicines have been derived from Indigenous knowledge and use of trees, plants, trees, soils, and water. Combatting everything from colds and flus to headaches, infections, skin conditions, and even cancer, our tradition knowledge for the care of our minds, bodies, and spirits has become one of the most powerful and comprehensive health-care plans going!
Positive Mindset for Harmony, Integrity, & Kindness
Much of the way in which we view our lives (for the good or for the bad,) comes from our outlook. This is derived in our mindset. As Indigenous people we are taught to use a good mind, or “Ganikwiyo ahsehs” in the Cayuga language. Speak kindly, do things well and with integrity, work hard, and aim for our best. Whether it be with our family and friends, our careers, our interests, and hobbies – we are taught that our best lives and best opportunities are rooted in the good medicines of our thoughts and actions. Our attitudes and thoughts impact everything in our lives and the lives of those around us. Having a positive mindset and expressing it consistently through out actions, words, and kindness towards others can bring about an emotional and physical sense of health and living well which is felt not only by the individual exuding it, but those who surround them – their community. Taking responsibility for the impact our attitude can have on the health and wellness of others around us is a huge undertaking, but it is one of the most rewarding.
Written by Spring Sault