BILLINGS – Last week we took you downtown to visit Smudge the Streets, an ancient ritual used to purify the soul in many Native American cultures.

It was just one step for Urban Indian Health and Wellness in their journey to help a growing community get healthy and thrive.

“The urban population is a growing population. Many people don’t know this, but the urban population is larger than the reservation population,” said Leonard Smith, CEO of Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness.

That growing number makes up 80% of the indigenous population in the United States.

And with population growth come a number of problems.

A number that requires collaboration of resources and openness.

Urban Indian Health and Wellness focuses on a holistic approach to healing.

“The community as a whole is suffering. Montana as a whole suffers from drug addiction, meth,” said Joe Clifton of Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness.

“Some of the subconscious biases I’ve gotten from serving here at Billings have been, ‘Well, here in the real world, that’s how we do it.’ And so I’d lived on a reservation for most of my life and so coming to Billings wasn’t my choice. I didn’t come here voluntarily. I had an addiction. That’s the unconscious tendency I was going to get. I felt less than, “said Philene Whiteman of Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness.

An important step is removing paternalism and obstacles.

“It sees itself as a relationship, we are all in need, it is not a sector of the community that is the only one suffering. We all need to look at the services we offer because it is not just going to be who you are see on the street suffering from it, it will be a relative, it will be a cousin, there will be someone around, “said Clifton.

“One of the things we do here at Billings Indian Health & Wellness Center is we meet our customers where they are. We just meet them right where they are,” said Whiteman.

Your clinic offers everything from medical services to behavioral health services, with the latter increasing in demand.

“One of the things I do in my practice is that I use the medicine wheel concept, it’s pretty universal. Anyone can use it, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It heals those parts. Because you can’t just one I understand that alcohol and drugs are something that takes care of things, it helps you through, “said Whiteman.” So let’s look at who we are as a people. There are a lot of people, whether you are Growing up on a reservation or not, we will be separated from our culture, our peace and who we are as a people. That doesn’t mean we will go. If we go back to living in teepees and hunting buffalo, it just means that we are going back to who we are as a people and what is in our DNA. “

“Go back to what we traditionally were, and that were entrepreneurs and cultural medicine professionals, artists, parishioners. We feel most comfortable when we’re in the church. And it’s time to take our place in this church and do so to do.” Do things in a good, positive way, “said Mary Walks Over Ice, COO of Billings Urban Indian Health and Wellness.

The clinic is located at 1230 North 30th St.

Next week Jenny takes a look at the growing economic area of ​​Urban Indian and the collaborations that are taking place to promote more opportunities in our region.

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