Traditional Medicine

A Chickasaw Storytellers' Series

In traditional Chickasaw society, medicine was practiced by the "alikchi'," which may be translated as doctor or medicine man. This healer was considered to be divinely chosen and possessed a vast store of knowledge. According to Dr. Brad R. Lieb of the Chickasaw Nation's Heritage Preservation Division, "Chickasaw medicine men combined psychological, physiological and spiritual healing techniques in a holistic application to patients that also involved their family and community, and they often had positive health outcomes for those reasons." The traditional Chickasaw healing art was negatively impacted by the general suppression of Native American culture in the 20th century, and its practitioners were reluctant to share it with anyone whom they perceived as unworthy. The result has been that very little of this knowledge has been reliably documented, and only a few elders who remember the old techniques remain. But an effort is underway to save the remnants of this valuable part of Chickasaw culture for future generations.