Heap Big Medicine Man

From Canada comes this ridiculous story about an academic grant to study pre-scientific methods of preventing cancer. One could say that the only important thing in this story is the dollar figure: $1.2 million. Academic institutions exist in large part as slush funds to funnel cash into the hands of liberal constituencies.

I am pretty sure that any humor in what follows is unintentional:

A Lakehead University professor and her research team in partnership with traditional knowledge holders and Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig Health Access Centre (WNHAC) are receiving $1.2 million in CIHR funding to explore the efficacy of using traditional healing to prevent cancer.
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This project will implement traditional healing activities to address the impacts of colonialism in WNHAC’s service area. It will evaluate the impacts of the intervention through a pre- and post-design that will explore and measure risks and protective factors.

Using an Indigenous mixed methods research approach, this study will privilege Indigenous ways of knowing and doing and tangible outcomes for Indigenous communities through the implementation of medicine camps and traditional health practitioner visits.

What utter nonsense! Only in a university can one actually get paid for writing such drivel.

Dr. Ray explained the importance of examining cancer prevention using traditional healing methods.

“We need to stop framing prevalent risk factors of cancer as such and start thinking about them as symptoms of colonialism,” Dr. Ray said.

“When we do this, we also begin to think of cancer as a symptom of colonialism, which allows for expanded approaches to primary and secondary cancer prevention.”

To be fair, there is a limited sense in which this seeming absurdity could be true. Before the Europeans came along, Native Americans’ life expectancies were brutally short. Few lived long enough to die from cancer. So it is not entirely false to say that cancer, like high cholesterol, is a symptom of colonialism.

Colonialism is fundamentally about severing Anishinaabe peoples’ deep spiritual relationships to land. The anti-thesis to that is Anishinaabe systems of traditional healing that are grounded in a deep love and respect for the land and the knowledge that it possesses, Dr. Ray explained.

“Because of the resiliency and foresight of our ancestors, our practices and philosophies of traditional healing have not been lost. To restore mino-bimaadiziwin (the good life), we must look to those in our nations who possess this knowledge, and I am so grateful that as the principal investigator on this project, I am able to support the work of traditional knowledge holders and learn from them,” she said.

I will hazard a wild guess that nothing resulting from this project will prevent a single Indian from getting cancer or anything else. It will, however, result in the distribution of $1.2 million among the “researchers,” who appropriately are “so grateful.” The grotesque corruption of academic life grinds on, paid for mostly by taxpayers.

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