“True medicine men, it was said, had given way to the white man’s doctor because he knew more than the Indian practitioner…. [The older Indian men] had no loyalty to the old ways per se. The white man’s gun was far superior to the bow and arrow. Why not his medicine also?”
R. J. Rushdoony
The American Indian
In this brief chapter RJR gives a few anecdotes about his experience with Indian Medicine men as well as what he learned from Indian elders.
“From their (older Indian men) perspective, there were no medicine men on the reservation — only fakers.”
However, according to Rush’s account there were Indians who were what we would call Natural-paths and homeopaths. Rush mentions one particular gentleman who could identify every plant in the area as well as the medicinal purposes that those plants might have had. This reminds us that allopathic medicine does not have all the answers that it pretends to have. Indeed, there are times I wonder if allopathic medicine shouldn’t be viewed as alternative medicine in favor of a more homeopathic path.
Still, despite this natural-pathic skill RJR reports that the Indian,
“liked modern conveniences and advances, including modern medicine.”
Rush reports this because the Federal Government, during the New Deal, sought to re-Indianize the Indians and as such encouraged the Indians to go back to their ancient ways. Rush writes,
“They [the Indian] had no loyalty to the old ways per se…. they did not identify their Indian-ness in terms of artifacts, and it annoyed them when others did…. They saw nothing exclusive about the benefits of the white man’s civilization …. In brief, these old men liked modern conveniences and advances, including modern medicine…. they recognized and appreciated the advantages of modern medical practice, of nurses and hospitals.”
Rush does not again the failure of the State in terms of medicine,
“They [the Indians] knew that the agency doctors were often inferior to the doctors outside of the reservation….”
The immediately above quote is important because it reminds us again that whenever the State involves itself so that people are required and forced to go to them for any service the consequence is a lowering standard of quality of whatever service the State has seized. The Indians that RJR came in contact with in his Reservation ministry were forced into a governmental health care system and as such the Doctors that they had to deal with were inferior to Doctors operating in the supply and demand market. This is an observation pregnant with meaning as the citizenry today in our country are inching towards the kind of Socialized medicine the Indians had forced upon them. Our quality of medical care will be inferior just as the Reservation’s medical care was of lower quality.
Rushdoony returns to the medicine man issue by noting that what passed as the medicine men, in his observation, were, for the most part, dabblers in peyote.
“What then of the so-called medicine men practicing at that time? Most were peyote leaders. Peyote was administered as a holy, healing medicine. It tended to paralyze the digestive tract, or at least deaden it to pain, I was told. The patient felts no pain and assumed that he was being healed.”
Rush notes that such patients of the peyote practitioners would often finally fail and at the last second would give up on the medicine man and go to the hospital, despite the warnings of the medicine man against the hospital. Often when such people finally went to the hospital they quickly died because of the previous neglect. Upon their death, the peyote medicine men would then claim that the death was the result of giving up on the medicine man and going to the hospital.
RJR ends this chapter by admitting that there were a few other types of medicine men who were not peyote playboys. Rushdoony suggests that these “healers” were in fact, demonically enabled.
“There was another kind of practitioner. How deep his roots were in Indian history, I do not know…. These medicine men, if they could be called such … I would call occultist. They had strange powers I cannot explain. One of them … could pick up a rattlesnake, chant to it, hang it around his neck and not be bitten…. [Medicine] men such as A.C. were Indian in a fanatical way: they sought to blot out the world of the white man.”
RJR notes that as Christianity waned after WWII occultism increased. He notes that only the Gospel of Jesus Christ can counter such occultist practices and muses that,
“When men turn their backs on Christian civilization, see only evil in it, and try to abstract Biblical faith and morals from themselves and the world, are they not courting the demonic.”
This is an important word for our church and culture today. In many many places in the Church today churchmen are turning their back on Christian civilization, and indeed see only evil in the idea of Christian civilization. Indeed we are everywhere seeing the attempt to abstract Biblical faith and moral from silly conceptual paradigms like Natural law. One can only wonder if such churchmen are courting the demonic by turning their backs on Christian civilization.