Traditional Lakota Concept of Well-Being: A Qualitative Study

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Traditional Lakota Concept of Well-Being: A Qualitative Study

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Most psychological research from which treatments are developed has typically been from the majority population overlooking American Indian/Alaskan Native racial/ethnic groups. This qualitative study examines how traditional Lakota healers conceptualize well-being from their unique perspectives. Seven healers were interviewed using a 3 question semi-structured interview guide. The interviews were transcribed into the Lakota language then translated from Lakota to English. The interviewed were then analyzed inductively using a grounded theory method. From the data, a central theme emerged: the traditional Lakota concept of well-being (Wicozani). The healers identified five distinct way that well-being (Wicozani) may be achieved. These are that: (1) well-being is attained and maintained through one's prayerful awareness and experience with religious beliefs or the sacred/the holy - the Wakan; (2) well-being is attained and maintained through maintaining healthy relationships with family, tribal structure and all of creation; (3) well-being is attained and maintained through consistent practice of prayer through rituals and traditions; (4) well-being is attained and maintained through successful recovery from traumatic experiences; (5) the need to enact the values to attain and maintain an integrated sense of well-being. The results suggest that there are similarities across the Lakota culture and the majority culture despite epistemic difference. Based on the findings, implication and recommendations were made.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2015. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisor: Sherri Turner. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 178 pages.

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Noisy Hawk, Lyle. (2015). Traditional Lakota Concept of Well-Being: A Qualitative Study. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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