Navajo woman nominated for U.S. surgeon general

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Indian Country Today ran a great story this week about Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, the first board-certified Navajo female surgeon, who has just been nominated to serve as U.S. Surgeon General.

Here’s an excerpt of the story:

“Working at the Indian Health Service hospital in Gallup, New Mexico, Arviso Alvord says she saw how uncomfortable Navajo patients were in dealing with white doctors and Western medical facilities. ‘They were two completely different cultures,’ she says, so she started integrating traditional Navajo and Western principles of healing. ‘I listened patiently as people spoke, rather than trying to extract information from them. I tried to make sure I understood what they wanted. Some people wanted to take sacred objects into surgery with them, so we were flexible. We were very respectful of their ways of understanding.’

“She recognized the ceremonies that are part of Navajo healing help the mind to be balanced. ‘If the mind is unhappy, the body starts not working well, leading to migraines’ and other signs of ill health. ‘Ceremonies help the body to function well. A medicine man told me that the mind is the most important energy we have for healing.'”

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