Tribal Healing Program
Traditional Healing For Tribal Members
Tribal Healing At Puget Sound
The Tribal Healing program at Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound Tribal Healing implements Wellbriety’s White Bison-certified cultural education initiatives that illustrate the origins and influencing factors of Native American substance use as a means of drug and alcohol addiction prevention.
Our staff of Tribal Addiction Specialists provide alcohol/drug abuse assessments, co-occurring disorder evaluations, diagnoses, and individualized treatment to each guest. We at Puget Sound strive to generate and promote positive culturally-based social adjustments that benefit our guest’s relationships within themselves, their families, and their communities.
Within Tribal Healing, we reintegrate Native cultural practices and customs utilizing guest involvement and collaboration, participation in tribal ceremonies and events, and educational courses to promote healing and growth from within.
Puget Sound’s Tribal Healing focuses on the holistic recovery of our tribal guests through the fusion of traditional, evidence-based treatment practices with traditional Native American philosophies and customs. Within the Medicine Wheel & 12 Steps, our staff of tribal specialists educate our guests on prevention, preparation, and harm reduction tactics regarding alcohol and drug addiction within the scope of Native practices. Additionally, our staff review the historical trauma inflicted on native peoples following the introduction to European settlers, offering practical and positive coping skills to aid in their healing from intergenerational trauma.
We at Royal Life Centers are proud to be one of ten Wellbriety certified substance abuse treatment centers as it affords us the opportunity to honor the centuries-old traditions of holistic healing for any and all tribal members in need of SUD treatment.
The Wellbriety Movement was formed as a way to fill the gap in Native American healthcare, providing culturally-based healing for current and future generations of Indigenous people.
Traditional Customs -
The Cycle of Life
The 4 Directions
4 Seasons of Recovery
AA in Indian Country
How to Conduct Talking Circles
Cultural Allegories -
Eugene B Recalls Meeting Bill W
Story of the Orange Frog
Female-focused Motivations -
Women Taking Their Power Back
Message to a Younger Sister
Wellbriety aims to revitalize the traditional tribal principles, values, and teachings to restore the strong foundation of health and interconnectedness amongst Native American communities. In doing so, the movement aspires to promote holistic tribal healing of alcohol abuse, substance use disorders, co-occurring disorders, and the aftereffects of intergenerational trauma.
White Bison is the Wellbriety Movement’s internationally recognized training institute that provides education and certifications for Wellbriety’s culturally-based healing curriculum to substance use treatment programs and grassroot activists. White Bison embodies the Wellbriety Movement, striving to spread awareness and native-based education to reconnect indigenous people to the traditions and customs that allowed their ancestors to flourish and coexist in nature, their communities, and as individuals.
White Bison Training Programs:
- Medicine Wheel & 12 Steps
- Mending Broken Hearts
- Warrior Down (Recovery Coach)
- The Red Road to Wellbriety (Education)
As a center of excellence, White Bison offers tribal healing training in addition to necessary tools and resources that promote sustainable and beneficial growth within Native American Communities.
The Opportunity To Heal
Native American addiction treatment should be founded on culture, tradition, and values in addition to evidence-based practices. The essence of Native American culture—the spiritual ideology of interconnectedness— is what enabled the healthy, harmonious existence of tribal communities prior to the introduction of European settlers who attempted to indoctrinate Native people and erase their peaceful ways of life. To revitalize this culture of unity and oneness with the Earth, we at Royal Life Centers work with our guests to reconnect their spirit to all things around them, bringing them clarity and wholeness alongside their sobriety.
Our dedication to providing compassionate care those who seek our help is extended to reach tribal members who deserve a full opportunity to experience a life of sobriety built on their cultural beliefs and foundation of values.
Tribal Healing Curriculum
Traditional Healing for Tribal Members
Our Tribal Healing Services
Medicine Wheel and 12-Step Program
The Medicine Wheel is a sacred Native American symbol that represents healing and health. Often, the Medicine Wheel is regarded as a representation of all knowledge of the universe, a true symbol of hope and healing— for those who seek it. The Medicine Wheel’s symbolism can vary from tribe to tribe, as it is up to their interpretation. The Medicine Wheel has four directions: north, east, south and west. Each of these directions is a marker for many other attributes of that section of the Medicine Wheel.
Elements of The Four Directions:
- Stages of Life: Birth, Youth, Adult, Death
- Holistic Health Aspects: Mental, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual
- Natural Elements: Water, Air, Earth, Fire
- Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
- Ceremonial Plants: Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, Tobacco
The Medicine Wheel and 12-Step program is certification that focuses on healing the pain in communities (hurt, violence, suicide, the impact of addiction, etc.) and provides culturally-based treatment services within the 12-step approach. This adjusted 12-step program is based on teachings of the medicine wheel, the cycle of life, the Four Laws of Change, and ceremonial practice. Including culture, tradition, and values into this 12-step approach proves to be the missing piece for many tribal members who need more of a tailored approach to a traditional 12-step program of recovery.
The Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel, also called the Sacred Hoop, is a physical representation of the Native American ideology of universal interconnectedness. For generations, tribes have adopted the wheel’s mentality for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
The Medicine Wheel embodies the Four Directions, as well as Father Sky, Mother Earth, and Spirit Tree, which symbolize dimensions of health and the cycles of life. Depictions of the Medicine Wheel have been found in works of art such as artifacts and paintings in addition to large-scale physical constructions on the land. Over the last several centuries, thousands of these Wheels have been built on Native lands in North America.
Physical representations of the Medicine Wheel provide a sacred ground on which Native Americans ceremonies take place. Medicine Wheel rituals align the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun. To restore the natural balance, these events mirror the Medicine Wheel itself, moving in a clockwise, or sunset-wise, direction.
The Four Directions
While interpretations of the Medicine Wheel differ from tribe to tribe, the Four Directions (North, South, East, and West) are typically assigned a distinct color [black, red, yellow, and white], which represent the human race.
The Directions can also represent:
Wellness: Spiritual, Emotional, Intellectual, Physical
Life Stages: Birth, Youth, Adult, Death
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall
Natural Elements: Fire, Air, Water, Earth
Animals: Eagle, Bear, Wolf, Buffalo, &c.
Ceremonial plants: Tobacco, Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, &c.
Mending Broken Hearts
Mending Broken Hearts is a course through Wellbriety's White Bison training course. Mending Broken Hearts focuses on an approach to addressing intergenerational trauma for the purpose of healing. Mending Broken Hearts teaches about the trauma from stripping away the culture, interconnectedness, elders’ teachings, spirituality, language, values and ceremonies from Native Americans. Historically, this trauma occurred generations ago, as a consequence of mission and boarding schools that the Native American youth were forced into. This shift resulted in trauma— the taking away of an identity, values, having native languages silenced, even sexual and physical abuse.
The pain from this trauma is still felt, seven generations later. We are committed to breaking this cycle. Some of the biggest roadblocks to addiction treatment for Native Americans are addressing this intergenerational trauma, the generations of substance abuse and addiction, generations of shame and generations of abuse. We use the knowledge from this training to address the very real and ever-present root emotions of anger, guilt, shame, and fear— so that we can make room for healing.
Warrior Down is White Bison's relapse and recidivism prevention program. The Warrior Down program provides structure through relapse prevention techniques and recovery support for tribal members that have graduated our treatment program and are returning home to their tribal communities. Warrior Down offers a continuum of care for our Native American guests, smoothing the transition from treatment to their tribal communities through our collaboration and preparation with their tribe's sober support systems.
Royal's Tribal Healing program recognizes the importance of Warrior Down as it acts as a preventative measure against recidivism through a built-in sober support system— a vital part of recovery maintenance for individuals navigating early sobriety. As our guests reintegrate into their communities, they are guided through a sustained support network that doubles as a response team. Within this response team, our warrior graduates are given resources through this peer-to-peer program that equip them with the wisdom of fellow tribal members in recovery.
The Red Road To Wellbriety
The Native American wellness and recovery book, The Red Road To Wellbriety: In the Native American Way, is Wellbriety's literary resource written by tribal members and for tribal members. This book a culturally-based wisdom provides a Native American perspective on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Borrowing from AA's "Big Book," The Red Road To Recovery utilizes the 12-step format to jumpstart the recovery of tribal members. On the other hand, instead of a checklist to be completed, Wellbriety's sober guide looks at the steps through the lens of the Medicine Wheel's circle teachings. In essence, Red Road integrates the traditional principles of AA within the centuries-old traditions of Native American ancestors as a way to teach tribal guests cultural information about healing from substance use disorders.
During a guest's time in Puget Sound's Tribal Healing program, they are provided a copy of The Red Road To Wellbriety as a recovery resource to guide them on their journey to long-lasting recovery. Wellbriety's recovery literature can also be purchased for $18 through Wellbriety's website for all those who would like to review its wisdom.
The Wiping Tears Ceremony
The Wiping Tears ceremony calls upon the spirits of your ancestors to return to Earth to heal your pain. As the sacred songs ring out into the open air, you pray for guidance. The ceremony of Wiping Tears brings closure to grief and loss, making way for a revival of strength and solace. Using cedar, tobacco, and song, the ceremony carries prayers and wishes of our people to the Creator as it cleanses the space of any spiritual negativity. This ceremony is an expression of compassion and love for all human beings as expressed through our traditional beliefs, and it is our hope that it will relieve some of the pain and suffering of the survivors.
Sweat Lodge Events
A sweat lodge is a Native American tradition in which an individual enters a dome-shaped space to experience a sauna-like environment.
The lodge is typically a wood-framed structure made from harvested branches of a tree. Hot rocks are central to the sweat lodge, nestled inside a hollowed-out pocket in the Earth. Throughout the experience, water is poured over the heated rocks to evoke steam.
Sweat lodge ceremonies help detoxify the body, stimulating blood circulation and sweating out impurities.
Benefits of Sweat Lodge Ceremonies:
Spiritual Healing: Breeds a connection to nature and the spirit world
Emotional Healing: Serves as a tranquil sanctuary to connect with the self and the spirits
Mental Healing: Offers a space void of distraction for introspection and clarity
Physical Healing: Provides antibacterial wound-healing
The First Foods Gathering
The Role of Hunting and Gathering In Tribal Culture
Hunting and gathering have been an integral part of the Native American lifestyle for centuries. These practices are ingrained in our way of life- they helped us grow and prosper as a sovereign nation within North America. Continuing our ancient practices keeps us tied to our ancestors and their teachings of interconnectedness and respect with nature.
Why Do Native Food Traditions Matter?
For Native Nations, food is more than just what our people eat. For the many Native Nations, traditional food practices reflect individual and collective identity, cultural values, and a sense of community. Considering our food practices often reflect our beliefs and identities, the practices around harvesting fish, game, and other foods are critical to how we express ourselves as individuals, communities, and nations.
Respect for Native Food Practices
More than just a source of nutrition, Native food practices are connected to how our people and communities express themselves. As an influx of non-Indians chose to settle on Native land, our cultural values and the authority of Native Nations were threatened. Attempting to protect the land we cared for as an extension of ourselves, Native leaders signed treaties that promised access to the places where our people had always fished, hunted, and harvested. While the settlers did not honor the treaties, our leaders acted vigilantly on behalf of their communities.
As sovereign nations, our ancestors fought to reclaim our people's role in the management of essential resources. Following the introduction of European settlers, there have been many times when some of our traditional food sources were almost extinct-- excessive hunting and hoarding of resources jeopardized our expression of culture and sovereignty. Our ancestors fought to solve environmental challenges so that future generations can continue to understand, appreciate, and participate in tribal food practices. We take pride in promoting their legacy, and as a result, many of our efforts have brought species back from the brink of extinction.
Coastal Salmon Cookouts
For thousands of years, Salmon has been the primary source of food for Northwest Coast Native Americans and is highly respected. In fact, Native Nations of the Pacific Northwest consider themselves Salmon People.
Salmon In Native Culture
The abundance of Salmon provided sustenance and trade-wealth to the tribes of Northwest America.
As an indicator species, the Native Americans used the Salmon population to gauge the water's health.
Salmon was soaked in the river before being dried and then was smoked in a smokehouse. Dried salmon was eaten as is, soaked and heated, or boiled.
The Native symbol for Salmon represents abundance, fertility, prosperity, and renewal. As the Salmon People, they believe the fish is an incredibly important gift from the Creator.
Drum Circles symbolize the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Booming powwow drums, also called community drums, carry the beat as we sing our thanks into the universe. Drum Circles are often used for ceremonial purposes, dances, feasts, and as preparation for hunting parties. Traditionally, songs performed in a drum circle can be in English, a Native language, or vocables. Vocables, chant-like syllables without defined meaning (we-ah-hey-a), help define patterns of repetition within songs. Each individual drumming song is specific to the founding tribe, passed down from generation to generation over hundreds of years.
Within our Tribal Healing program, these events act as a holistic healing practice that rejuvenates the spirits of our guests as their prayers are carried out into the open air through song. Our guests gather to drum in drum circles to bond over a mutual appreciation of their culture. Following tradition, our drum circles are a space without hierarchy with no start or end. As the circle provides equality, our guests contribute to the rhythm, respect, and connection. The drum circle is a space for the drum, a sacred tool, to connect heaven and earth. As the drum maintains the rhythm of the world order, guests embody the role of the drummer, changing the world and healing their spirit through the beat.
Smudging is one of the Native traditions used to purify the body, aura, and energy of ceremonial or personal space. There are several ways in which Native tribes conduct a smudging ritual, however, the core ideals of this "smoke bath" remain the same.
Smudging for Personal Healing
Within a smudging ceremony, we burn dried herb clippings with the intention of healing. As the herbs burn, the spirits of the sacred plants remove negativity and restore balance. Smudging preparation begins by tying the dried plants of your choosing into bundles. These bundles are lit and burned on one end. Other smudging methods use loose herbs which can be burned in a large clay bowl, placed onto burning wood, or crumbled over live charcoal. Using your hands or a large feather, guide the smoke around your body while paying special attention to areas that need more spiritual healing. As you maneuver the smoke, you can pray to the Creator and spirits for guidance in your journey. In doing so, the herbs begin to cleanse the negativity from your spirit while inviting positivity to take hold. Make sure you are fully present and focused throughout the smudging process. Smudging traditions must be practiced with care, as you are creating an open line of communication to the spirit world. Smudging's can only be effective if completed with respect and honor.
Traditional Smudging Plants
Sage is the most ubiquitous herb used in smudging rituals. The herb's scientific name, Saliva, originates in the Latin word "salavre," which describes the feeling of health. Sage smudging is typically associated with the gift of wisdom, clarity, and strength as it purifies your spirit.
Sweetgrass is regarded as the hair of Mother Earth. Widely used by Native Americans, sweetgrass smudging carries your prayers into the spirit world, the smoke translating your intentions as it rises. Also termed "holy grass," the herb elicits sweet-scented smoke as it greets a flame.
Cedar, a vital resource for weaving Native garb, is known in smudging for its cleansing properties. The tree bark eliminates evil spirits within people, places, and objects, restoring the natural order. A universal equalizer, cedar provides balance, positivity, and human-spirit connection.
Tobacco is a highly sacred medicine plant within Native culture that acts as the bridge between the human and spiritual worlds. Tobacco Smudging rituals signify your gratitude and commitment to Native beliefs. As your tobacco burns, you receive support from the spirits in return for your tribute.
Bark harvesting, the first step in this sacred tradition, reinforces your bond with nature as you provide offerings and prayers to the tree from which your cedar came.
So it goes, the tree picks the harvester.
Cedar bark is ideal for weaving. Once the cuts of strong, malleable wood are interwoven, they can become rope, baskets, capes, hats in addition to traditional Native American regalia.
Culturally Modified Cedar Trees
Those harvesting within North America typically collects bark from the red and yellow cedar trees native to the land.
Native American's take great care to gather only the bark they need, as excessive hoarding kills the tree. While the stripped part of a cedar tree cannot regrow its bark, the tree will continue to grow around the affected spot so long as the trunk isn't stripped bare.
One of the best-known Native American art traditions is beadwork. Our ancestors crafted bead designs from native materials, fashioning them into accessories like necklaces. Prior to the introduction to glass beads via European trade, Native American beads were much larger, laboriously sanded down with simple tools of stone or wood. The colorful glass beads caused an explosion of beadwork across North America. These beads were so popular that our people quickly traded within our exchange networks until they could be found in the most remote parts of the United States.
Today, beadwork symbolize the Native American heritage. To preserve our Native American culture, we continue to incorporate beadwork on regalia worn at traditional ceremonies such as powwows. During a powwow celebration, dancers are fashioned with moccasins, cuffs, armbands, chokers, and belts all illuminated with brightly colored beadwork. Beadwork acts as the physical representation of Native American pride as they celebrate the culture with song, dance, and food. Outside of traditional ceremonies, our people don beaded headbands as decoration for their hats. Conventional updates to beaded ties, belts, and jewelry were implemented as more and more Native Americans integrated them into everyday wear. Although beadwork many seem inconsequential, the reintroduction of beadwork in Native culture acts as a simple yet strong reminder of our people's long-standing traditions and the importance of sustaining a connection with our ancestors.
The cathartic process of drum making is a long-honored tradition within Native American culture. Creating a physical representation of the traditions and celebrations of Native communities awakens and empowers the heart of those recovering from substance use disorders in our Tribal Healing program. As guests learn from our tribal specialists and craftspeople, they experience the spirituality of creation.
We teach the importance of respecting the spirits of the wood and the animals who provide the hide, giving thanks as they join together in perfect union to create the beautiful instrument. With clear minds, hearts, and energy, our guests process their emotions in a healthy and productive environment that rekindles their connection to the universe and their communities.
As artists, guests take their tools and design sublime artwork that doubles as a functional healing tool that evokes a sense of pride and accomplishment. All guests are taught the ways of Native American drum making through respectful intentions that concentrate on tribal healing.
Types of Drums
As a sacred Native American instrument, Powwow drums are used during drum circles to keep the beat as we thank Mother Earth. With low, bellowing voices, these drums embody the spirits of our ancestors who help our people heal. The wide base of the drum is usually made from cedar, a highly respected wood in our culture. As with most Native drums, the Powwow drum's head is made from buffalo or deer hide. Loud and large, the drum accompanies us as we dance, sing, and honor our culture. Created as a group instrument, the Powwow drum is much larger than a typical drum. During a Powwow, our people join drum circles, beating to the rhythm as they become one with the song.
The most commonly used drum by Native Americans is the hand drum. Hand drums come in all shapes and sizes. Certain drums are patted with a hand, while others are beaten with mallets. Most hand drums have animal rawhide stretched to fit either side of a wooden base.
Although foot drums have fallen out of use in most Native tribes, the Aztec and Hopi people continue to use these instruments for ceremonies. Made from hollowed-out logs, foot drums are placed over wood pits that produce sound when the top of the drum is struck.
Used most in the Iroquois and the Yaqui tribes, water drums derive their unique sound from the water vibrations produced as the instrument is struck. The tone elicited from the drum is dependent on the amount of water held inside.
The Yaqui create water drums from gourds, split in half and placed split-side-down in a basin of water. When hit by a striker, the vibrations cause the water to ripple and resonate out into the air.
The Iroquois water drum is more conventional in appearance with a tanned animal hide stretched over a wooden base that contains water. As with a traditional drum, the Iroquois drum produces its sound when the top of the drum is struck, the subsequent vibrations bounce off the water inside.
Another addition to Royal Life Centers and Puget Sound’s Tribal Healing program is Native Canoe Paddle Carving. For thousands of years, the native peoples of Northwest America piloted their canoes along with the rushing current of the saltwater coast, building their identities and way of life of the resources found in and around the rivers.
It is our hope that, as guests carve their canoe paddles from the logs of cedar, they reconnect to their ancestors, once again becoming stewards of the rivers that once sustained their way of life.
Gardening techniques have been utilized amongst Native American communities for centuries, providing tribal members with sustainable resources for food and medicine. As such, tribal gardening practices are built into the backbone of Native culture and customs. Tribal gardening connects our guests to all of those who have come before them, teaching them how to care for the earth as they learn to grow traditional food and medicine.
Pacific Northwest Cuisine
In the Pacific Northwest, traditional diets include salmon, seafood, mushrooms, berries, and meats such as deer, duck, and rabbit. In contrast to the Easterners, the Northwestern peoples are traditionally hunter-gatherers. The generally mild climate led to the development of an economy based on year-round abundant food supplies, rather than having to rely upon seasonal agriculture.
The craft of Native American medicine has developed over 40,000 year old and is collected from over 500 nations. Their traditional principles focus on the balance between nature and health, using naturopathic medicines and remedies that have assisted in the healing of tribal communities for centuries.
Within Tribal Gardening, our Native medicine course uses the holistic approaches found in native herbal interventions, pharmaceuticals, and modern technology through the lens of Native interconnectedness to develop a healthier perspective and unified identity. In essence, Native medicine offers a simple but poignant way for our guests to witness the power of plants and their healing abilities, revitalizing their sense of connection to their cultural identity and individual identity.
Here are a few of Royal Life Centers' Tribal Healers
Reach Out To Join Our Tribal Healing Program
Royal Life Centers is in-network with Shasta Insurance and the Healthcare Management Administration (HMA). We also have a collaborative relationship with IHS (Indian Health Services) and are fully willing to work with other insurance providers in order to get you into our Tribal Healing program for treatment. Should our admissions team find that your insurance plan is out of network we will work relentlessly on your behalf to come to an agreement with your provider.
Royal's Tribal Healing Point of Contact
Our Corporate Tribal Liaison, Melissa Hood, is Puget Sound's tribal specialist for our admissions department. Please contact Melissa Hood for additional information and assistance in entering our addiction treatment programs.
Joining Royal Life Centers’ Tribal Program
You can also expedite the admissions process by filling out the form below, which directly sends your information to Melissa in Tribal Healing department. In doing so, we will expedite the verification of your insurance so that she can start your entrance into our treatment program.