This book places the revival of Indigenous ceremonialism in a new light. The author aims at dispelling misconceptions and negative opinions by showing the traditional rituals to have well-defined and integrated therapeutic effects.The guardian spirit ceremonial of the Coast Salish First Nations combines the Spirit Quest of the Plateau tribes with the rich ceremonial life of the Northwest Coast cultures. In this book, the author draws upon personal observations and upon information obtained in years of close contact with the Coast Salish Peoples, as a physician and psychiatrist, as well as upon ethnographic literature. He witnessed the revival of the ceremonial after decades of suppression and shows that, besides its complex traditional functions, it now provides the local Indigenous population with an annual winter treatment program in which several types of well-defined therapeutic procedures are integrated. These procedures compare favorably with Western medical management of psychophysiological conditions and with Western correctional measures in behavior disorders.Initiation into spirit dancing permits an alienated Indigenous person, suffering from what the author describes as 'anomic depression', to reidentify with the culture of his ancestors and obtain the traditional guardian spirit power in order to grow with it into a more rewarding and healthier existence. In presenting a scientific analysis of the ceremonial, the author aims at dispelling misconceptions and negative opinions. It is hoped that the Indigenous elders and healers who have generously shared their knowledge with the author will be encouraged by this book to continue with their efforts in the service of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Coast.
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