Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research Vol. 13, No. 2, 2003. Copyright © 2003 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


At first glance, the articles in this anthology appear to be a motley assortment of readings pertaining to Native American health issues, past and present. Upon further examination, however, the essays-written by American Indian and non-Indian historians, anthropologists, and health care professionals-weave a theme relating sociopolitical and socioeconomic variables to historic epidemiology, demonstrating that the processes of colonialism and neocolonialism continue to affect Native American health and health care. A major tenet of the book is that definitions of disease, illness, health, and well-being constructed by non-Indian scholars and health care personnel do not consider Native voices at the individual and community levels, where good health is "often expressed as a balance between a body, mind, and spirit or soul." Overlooking or ignoring Native points of view-or, even worse, the differences among different tribal communities in North America-perpetuates stereotypes and misunderstandings, contributing to the overall poor state of Native American health. To remedy this problem, Indian voices resonate throughout the essays, ranging from Native perspectives on disease in historic and contemporary settings, to community- based programs offering solutions to Native American health care issues deemed important by the peoples themselves.