medical licensing for providers of medial alternatives and public memberships for patients seeking for health optimization and wellness

(Nancy Gahles,, February 8, 2019)

The Crow Nation recently became the first Native American tribe to exercise its jurisdiction over the practice of indigenous medicine, boldly invoking the tribal sovereignty that is recognized in and protected by the United States Constitution and treaties, which no other Native American nation or state in the U.S. has done before. Centuries of economic deprivation, poverty, social turmoil, and oppression has led to a resurgence of the need for tribal identities and political systems that serve the Indian nations in a way that will stimulate a robust economy and the health of their nation. Tribal Chairman of the Crow Nation, Alvin Not Afraid, Jr., invoked the foundation of this resurgence by acknowledging the right of self-government by more than 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Such “self-rule” or sovereignty has been supported by every President of the United States since the 1960’s.

According to  Myths and Realities of Tribal Sovereignty: The Law and Economics of Indian Self-Rule, a whitepaper from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy’s School of Business, “a combination of federal court rulings and Congressional policies, tribal self-rule sovereignty has proven to be the only policy that has shown concrete success in breaking debilitating economic dependence on federal spending programs and replenishing the social and cultural fabric that can support vibrant and healthy communities and families.” 
In in July 2018, Not Afraid, Jr. signed a Resolution on behalf of the Crow Nation defining indigenous medicine as follows:

“Indigenous medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to native cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement, or treatment of physical and mental illness including, but not limited to alternative, complementary, holistic, and integrative approaches.”

This language is also in the definition of traditional medicine from the World Health Organization (WHO). Traditional medicine, according to WHO, is also known as indigenous or folk medicine, and comprises medical aspects of traditional knowledge that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine. The Indian custom of honoring their ancestors’ wisdom, time-honored medical practices, and culture is reflected in the use of the phrase, “whether explicable or not.” Obfuscating the necessity of meeting the cumbersome, dubious standards of the current “evidence-based” and the fast-becoming-obsolete placebo-based, randomized controlled trials is both bold and visionary. Further defining tribal medicine as indigenous, rather than traditional, grounds the practice to their origination as Native Americans.

Not Afraid, Jr., then signed a Resolution that formally recognized the First Nation Medical Board ( FNMB) as its healthcare agency for the practice of indigenous medicine. Daniel Royal, DO, CTP, JD, following his passion, started the process with the Crow Nation to get more practitioners of alternative medicine to be legally licensed to practice healing modalities on and off the reservation to a specific group of members. Physicians, allopathic medical doctors, can be dual-licensed for the use of medical alternatives in their practices and protected against state medical boards.

In September, Royal spoke to the Nevada Homeopathic Integrative Medical Association on behalf of the FNMB. Royal explained how Indian Sovereign Immunity works to preserve, protect, and promote the practice of indigenous medicine. In an exclusive interview, Royal offered his perspective on the way in which this licensing board affects practitioners and patients looking for integrative care. The FNMB provides both medical licensing for providers of medical alternatives and public memberships for patients seeking health optimization and wellness, he said.

Practitioners looking to practice indigenous medicine can find more information and fees on the FNMB website. The FNMB defines four types of licenses, the Certified Tribal Practitioner, the Certified Tribal Healer, the Certified Tribal Technician, and Traditional Tribal Healer, all of which have different education and professional requirements. The Certified Tribal Practitioner, for example, must have a doctorate and trained in invasive therapies like IVs and injections. A Certified Tribal Healer must have doctoral or post-graduate training and use non-invasive methods such as nutrition and homeopathy. The latter will apply to most disciplines in integrative healthcare.

Royal explained that the economic development plan of the Crow Nation will benefit from the funding through applications for tribal licenses. Additionally, integrative medicine practitioners will be provided protection from FNMB as well as opportunity in all 50 states. The expected result of establishing this board is that FNMB providers will increase in numbers, so that patient members will have greater access to devices, therapies, and substances used in the integrative medicine that would otherwise be unavailable to them. He expects the outcome to be an established network of integrative medicine providers for the members seeking natural treatments and products and thereby contribute to improving the optimal health and well-being of the members who utilize the integrative medicine services.

Royal said he is very excited about the preeminent opportunity for integrative medicine practitioners to help advance medical science by submitting standardized protocols to the FNMB’s Indigenous Medicine Institutional Review Board (IMIRB) for clinical studies that can be used to document the effectiveness of indigenous medicine. It is particularly apparent at this time when the call for non-pharmacologic alternatives to opioids is made that the demonstration projects to be funded will have to emanate from the old guard traditional venues, such as universities, medical schools, or hospitals. Alternative therapies do not dwell in these bastions of conventional medicine and they are not welcome to conduct their clinical studies there. The thinking derives from something akin to the adage that you can’t get the job because you have no experience, but to get the experience you need to get the job.

Alternative medicine has been excluded on grounds like that because it is claimed by those in conventional medicine, that it doesn’t have enough research and it doesn’t work. It is therefore, a dangerous unknown, and has been called a “third rail”, untouchable, not worthy of funding clinical trials. Homeopathic medicine, of course, is the second largest form of medicine in the world as per usage defined by WHO and is growing exponentially in the United States. Licensure by the First Nation Medical Board provides an untold opportunity to maximize the optimal health and wellbeing of the nation and contribute to the scientific base of therapeutic evidence for the good of the entire nation and the world.



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