Traditional Indigenous Peoples’ Lifestyle is vigorous. Throughout centuries health has taken a great part in the well-being of people.
Forest Medicine is varied and can extend to any cure - from a cure for the common cold to a cure for snake bite.
Due to bio-pirating, as indigenous people, we cannot publish many of our little known traditional remedies.
However, we can publish some of our more common ones and share our approach to health and well-being.
7 Traditional Indigenous Peoples’ Lifestyle Practices that are good for your Health
Traditional Indigenous Peoples’ Lifestyle is vigorous. It is physical and foods are more organic and fresh. To obtain wholesome foods, much energy is used and the result is a healthier body. Here are some simple lifestyle traditions and how to practise them in every-day living.
1. The lifestyle is physical. Exercises like walking and canoeing help to accomplish every-day tasks such as sourcing food. Walk to get what you want— like your grocery shopping.
2. Fetching has to be done. People carry their own belongings—they physically transport food produce from the farm. Instead of having your food delivered, carry them yourself.
3. Food is more fresh and organic. With no refrigeration and the lengthy methods of other types of food preservation, it is simpler to use fresh foods. Eat fresh foods instead of preserved ones.
4. Organic vegetables are grown in small natural gardens using natural methods.Grow your own food in your garden or boxes using natural methods.
5. Eating is seasonal. Foods come in a wide variety of taste. Eat seasonal—when foods are in season, they are fresher, tastier and cheaper.
6. Energy is used to source wholesome food. Because food sources are specific, it takes time and effort to get special foods. Instead of settling for ‘easy food’, source wholesome food and go get it. Walk if you can.
7. Diet is varied because it ties in with the season. Eat seasonal and you would find your diet more varied.
Practising Sumak Kawsay (The Good Life) in a Money Based Economy
Growing up in a traditional community, everything was connected in a fulfilling way. I have always wanted to put this experience into words but never felt that the time was right.
My feelings of exhilaration were not only due to being young and my parents providing me with a carefree childhood. Today as an adult, I have the same feelings when I return to my ancestral land. There is a certain connection with the environment and acceptance that I cannot get elsewhere.
This experience is termed Good Living in most indigenous cultures and is known as Sumak Kawsay in the native, South American, Quechau language. I supposed other cultures enjoy Sumak Kawsay too.
One term that is part of this living in my culture is 'Kutiwabo' which means 'the real food' (in indigenous Lokono language) or natural foods with natural flavours and even if cooked, done in a way to preserve those flavours.
This type of food satisfies the body and soul.
Whenever I am in London, where all my material needs are met according to the values of a western society, I still try practicing the good life.
One big plus of practising this in a money based economy, is that life is less stressful and cheaper.
For me, the key to practicing the good life in a western culture is to think about the environment first. Without the natural environment we cannot survive. I see it as the provider and think about how I relate with it.
Transportation: Walk whenever I can. My family use a small car which I use only when necessary. Walking helps us to keep fit and save on petrol.
Eating: I try eating lots of fresh fruits. These have their natural taste. I also do not prepare too much of sophisticated dishes (only on special occasions) I find that the simpler dishes retain their natural flavours better. Organic and locally sourced foods are better for the environment so we tend to buy these.
Dwelling: My grandparents lived in a small house. They spent most of the day outdoors and only spent time indoors when they went in to sleep or felt unwell. My house is about adequate space. This helps with heating and easy maintenance.
Sharing: This is important in enjoying the good life. I try to share my time by volunteering. I feel good to know that I have this relationship with others. Our relationship with others is affected by the way we respect and use the land—use some and leave for others, including the animals, birds and insects. If we do not treat them right, they might not be there for us to see and enjoy.
Sumak Kawasay is a web way of practicing life.
Peru has incorporated Sumak Kawasay in their Governmental Policy which I think is an excellent idea.
11 Dietary Health Benefits of Cassava Bread
Do not confuse cassava bread with the root vegetable cassava. Also, do not confuse cassava bread with loaf bread made with a proportion of cassava flour together with rising agents, sugar, salts, fats etc. etc.
The bread is made from the processed cassava flour of the bitter cassava root. Water holding starch and other properties are removed which results in a coarse flour.
The flour is baked into a flat, pancake like bread. Cassava bread is free from any additive including salt, sugar, fats, preservatives and rising agents.
It is also gluten free. It is high in fibre and carbohydrates. With its neutral, ordinary taste, it complements many other types of sweet and savoury foods.
1. Cassava bread has no additional salt, so is good for people requiring a low salt diet. It can be eaten with complementary foods such as avocado or boiled crab where no salt is required.
2. With no sugar added, cassava bread is sugar free. It is good to train the appetite for less sugar. If something sweet is preferred, eating the bread with ripe banana is an excellent way to have some natural sweetness.
3. For those people requiring a low fat diet, cassava bread is an excellent choice. In this case, it is delicious with boiled or steamed fish. If you like chilli you can add a bit to the fish.
4. There are no added preservatives in cassava bread. Instead, it is preserved by drying in the sun. If you are looking for a naturally preserved food, cassava bread should be your choice.
5. People with an allergy to any rising agent such as yeast or baking powder can use cassava bread. The bread is flat and does not rise while baking.
6. If you require a gluten free food, cassava bread is gluten free. It is recommended for persons suffering from celiac disease.
7. Cassava bread is excellent for those wishing to lose weight. It is rich in fibre so acts as a filler food. When combined with digestive juices in the stomach, it swells and lessens hunger pangs.
8. Cassava bread is rich in fibre. A fibre rich diet reduces cholesterol which lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
9. Eating cassava bread may lower blood sugar levels. Fibre rich foods tend to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.
10. Because it is high in fibre, it is good for those suffering from constipation.
11. For sustaining energy, cassava bread, high in carbohydrates is an excellent food. It is eaten while going on long forest treks. The carbohydrates are converted to glucose which is converted to glycogen and stored in the muscles.
Importance of Traditional Healers in Indigenous Communities
When he was twelve years old, while living in our local indigenous community, my son fell ill. Among other things, he was thoroughly enjoying himself bathing in the natural pool and building mini dams which water constantly penetrated and broke. Early one night, after a full day of action, he started experiencing an unsettled stomach which eventually led to him not being able to keep his food down.
After preparing to make the walk to the healer's house, something out of the ordinary happened. Even though we had not informed or called him, like an angel, he appeared through the darkness.
I was so relieved, words couldn't express my feelings and thoughts. My confidence in him was very high because he had an excellent reputation as a local healer. We stood in respect as he looked at the sick and after some time told us that he would have to go looking for medicine. Without a moon, the tropical night can be very dark, however the healer went out in the night to look for his medicine. He later returned with his liquid medicine which he got from a forest plant in a bottle and gave a few sips to my son. Within a few hours the sickness stopped and my son was feeling a whole lot better.
Now, Sachi is a young man and whenever he returns to the community, he has a check up with the same healer.
This experience has convinced me that in our tropical rainforest are medicines that play an important role in the health of people who live there. I have also learnt that local healers play a very important part in the health of many isolated communities. If our world is to become a more inclusive world we must recognise the intelligence and expertise developed by exceptional communities such as indigenous forest communities.
Prior to contact, indigenous peoples such as the Tl'azt'enne relied on the land to keep healthy.
It has now come to light and I am convinced that for purely money and power there were efforts by 'the powers that be' to exterminate our usage of traditional medicine.
Thankfully, there are practitioners in our communities who still use traditional medicine
As I recall my son's illness, we owe it to our children and grandchildren to remind them of medicines that are still in our forests and might be of benefit to more of us.