Daniela M. Pěničková’s article titled Sunrise Ceremony: Revising Addiction and Discussing Culturally Relevant Sources of Healing is part of a collective monograph edited by an ethnographer Barbara Půtová (Charles University, Prague).

The book (Identity, Tradition and Revitalization of American Indian Cultures) explores a wide spectrum of cultural adaptation in form revival and restructuring of Native American pre-Contact traditional practices to modern (and postmodern) times. These include indigenous language use, games, dance, spiritual beliefs and human sacrifice, coming-of-age rituals, or social and material aspects of inter-tribal trade. The authors reflect how these became part of contemporary Native social identity and play an increasing role in fighting modern day challenges.

Daniela M. Pěničková’s article examines the social and psychological functioning of a Western Apache only surviving coming-of-age public ritual called Sunrise Dance or Ceremony. Through a long-term ethnographic research she has investigated the importance of this event in the process of finding culturally sensitive therapies for pathological gambling and other addictions. She first presents a thorough history of colonization of Western Apache culture which deconstructs the hegemonic practices that systematically disrupted the Native social network and protective factors aiding in resisting mental illness including addictive behaviors. These disruptions cut to the heart of what is understood as the healthy self. The Apache “real” self is four-fold. It includes warrior-hood (bravery), connection to tribal spiritual authorities (such as the Changing Women whose identity and healing powers are taken on by the coming-of-age young women during the Sunrise Ceremony), tribal sovereignty, and participation in matrilineal kinship. These are vital aspects of cultural survival and the author suggests that without integrating them into modern day health care, the mostly Western modes of therapy employed in Native American communities will remain ineffective.

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Publication date: July 24, 2017