Healing the Body, Healing the Self: The Interrelationship of Sickness, Health, and Faith in the Lives of St. Lawrence Island Yupik Residents

Carol Zane Jolles

Abstract

Introduction. For about 15 years, Carol Jolles has been traveling to St. Lawrence Island, Alaska to study the role faith plays in the lives of Sivuqaq (Gambell) residents. From the outset, she was aware of the strong presence of two Christian faith traditions in the community. She was present when people “spoke in tongues” (entered a spiritual state, sometimes identified as an altered state of consciousness), and she was aware that people relied on prayer, often uttered in a spiritually inspired context, to ease the pain of daily life and to find the strength to do difficult tasks. Many months passed, however, before she realized that many people relied on faith to heal. From the perspective of her long-term working relationships and friendships with community members, Jolles takes a fresh look at some of the situations from her early work where faith and healing were intertwined. She also looks at more recent examples to place faith-based healing in a more general context. In the process, she focuses on a few special individuals to highlight the components of faith and healing associated with illness and mental distress. WHA

  • Carol Zane Jolles, Department of Anthropology University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195

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