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American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Cultural Competence Perspectives for Professional Service Providers

Teresa A. Sappier, MA, Indian Health Service Intern, Division of Behavioral Health/Office of Clinical and Prevention Services, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, 301-443-2125, teresa.sappier@ihs.gov and Alan I Trachtenberg, MD, MPH, Indian Health Service, National Research Director, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852.

Abstract: AI/AN people have embedded in their cultures a worldview that many non-Native people may have difficulty grasping. The AI/AN customs, traditions and way of life display a wealth of knowledge that encompasses health and healing. Cultural competence embodies a variety of imperatives. According to Weaver (2004)[1], a service providerís essential knowledge focuses on the clientís culture, customs and traditions, and the providerís own self-awareness and understanding of his own values and attitudes. Weaver continues by asserting that providers must respect diversity, integrating their helping skills with clientsí knowledge, values, and attitudes. Cultural competence related to cultural healing, knowledge and practices demands an orientation for incoming Indian Health Service professionals who wish to work with Native people. This paper will discuss Native cultural competencies and aspects of traditional healing techniques that are common among tribes.

Method: Review of the literature on cultural competence and traditional healing.

Conclusions: The implications of this work emphasize the necessity of transcultural approaches that focus on the critical elements of biomedical, psychological, sociological and, more importantly, health and healing services to American Indians and Alaska Natives in providing them with culturally competent and community oriented primary care.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Global Alternative and Complementary Health Practice Perspectives: Alternative and Complementary Health Practices Around the World

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA