The Shawnee Indians’ Health Culture in Ohio

Subject: Public Health
Pages: 3
Words: 597
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: PhD

The Shawnee Indians of Ohio have become an important part of Ohio culture. Their numbers have multiplied to about 8000 over the past centuries since the first census in 1835. Their name comes from the Algonquin word “Shawun” which means Southerner and they are the largest groups living in Ohio presently. This research will center on the importance of their cultural practices to their health and how this can be beneficial to medical personnel in dealing with them (Wright, 2005).

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The Shawnee Indians lived a healthy lifestyle right from childhood according to their culture. The children of the Shawnee Indian tribe were bred to believe and engage in different types of Sports because the elders of the tribe insisted on its benefits to both stamina and strengthen muscles. The activities included running, swimming, and walking (Wright, 2005).

Aside from physical sports, The Shawnee boys were encouraged to participate in archery for hunting and warrior purposes to build their eyesight and develop their cognitive abilities in areas like perception and sensory adeptness (Wright, 2005).

The Shawnee women were more significant in the health beliefs that the Shawnee embrace today. They and the traditional healers called shamans were responsible for taking care of the ailments of the tribe’s people by sourcing for herbs and taking care of the wounded. For example, the willow bark was split into forceps to remove arrowheads that were deeply embedded in the skin. Although the wars of the 1800s do not exist anymore, the bark still serves the purpose of its many purposes (Wright, 2005).

Another belief they shared is the healing power of the willow bark in herbal tea or smoked like a cigar. The bark was used to treat ailments like asthma and to treat colds. This is a practice that applies even today.

Another herbal remedy used was the blueberry root tree to treat ailments such as cramps, hiccups, and colic, which is a situation where the baby cries uncontrollably followed by bouts of irritability and fussiness (Bupa Health Information Team, 2009). These days’ pharmaceutical companies have adopted some sages of wisdom from this herbal remedy to develop a product called Gripe Water that relieves all of these symptoms (Feder, 2006, p. 432).

The Shawnee believed that health was the responsibility of the spirits. They believed that evil spirits were responsible for ill health and were therefore important for people to change their names if they had a history of bad health (De Capua, 2007).

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Most of the Shawnee have embraced some parts of modern culture but generally, they maintain most of their cultural beliefs especially pertaining to health. According to Policy and Procedures (2010), the role of medical practitioners is to respect the culture of the Shawnee.

The medical personnel should honor their right to refuse treatment as well as give the patient/client enough information to make an informed decision about a particular procedure or mode of treatment.

The medical personnel should also ensure that they provide the patient with personal care that upholds their dignity and does not show any aspect of discrimination and seeks to embrace their cultural views in providing health services. As mentioned above, the adoption of Gripe Water may have been a European custom but since it has some similarities, medical personnel can try to embrace their health remedies and beliefs. This means that the patient must be encouraged to take an active role in the treatment and all health care procedures.

The overall task in dealing with Shawnee health beliefs is making sure to understand them and looking at them with an open mind.


Bupa Health Information Team. (2009). Colic Bupa. Web.

De Capua, S. (2007). The Shawnee. New York: Marshall Cavendish.

Feder, L. (2006). Natural Baby and Childcare: Long Island: Hatherleigh Press.

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Policy and Procedures. (2010). Web.

Wright C. (2005). The Culture of Ohio’s Shawnee Indian Tribe. Web.