Guest blog – Arlee blessing


Arlee, Montana (September 15, 2011) – Jewel James began the program with a history of the healing totems after 9/11 and a description of the NLM Healing Totem’s symbolism.

Tribal elders shared comments on Native healing beliefs and the importance of staying true to yourself and your culture.

The Salish blessing included two drums and singing by both adults and children — and prayers to four directions (North, South, East & West).

     Two tribal leaders bless the healing totem

     (Photo courtesy of Kathy Cravedi)

The first drum and songs symbolized the trip to Arlee and the second symbolized the remainder of the trip, with children from the Salish school singing and drumming.

The blessing was conducted in the native Salish language and as it ended, two eagles circled above us and rode the breeze for several minutes. It seemed to be the ultimate blessing.

I found the ceremony moving because it was unlike anything I have experienced.
Each speaker mentioned the connection between nature and medicine and their concern for the earth’s health.  Speakers also discussed the many native plants found in the surrounding mountains and valleys, their medicinal values, and the cultural importance of passing this and other knowledge down to children.

I found the ceremony educational because I did not realize children in the Salish school are taught their language and cultural history as well as traditional healing and medicinal plants.

Dana Kopp

The Learning Center, St. Patrick Hospital

Missoula, Montana

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