I guess I’ve kind of always had this slightly twisted curiosity about what happened to people that became physically disabled in primitive cultures. As a Native American, I usually put it in the context of a migratory plains tribe. I pose my question this way: If Grandma suddenly had a mild stroke that didn’t kill her, but left her hemiparetic or say Grandpa had Parkinson’s and he became too bradykinetic to make it on the Great Migration, what did they do? I’m sure there wasn’t room for everyone to ride a horse or litter or wagon in later days. Did they just sit Grandma or Grandpa under a tree and walk away, since they couldn’t keep up? I would imagine this didn’t happen too frequently with age related syndromes, because as a whole, people didn’t live long enough to be at a high risk for these kinds of disabilities and their lifestyles were more healthy in regards to diet (when there was enough to go around) and exercise (walking EVERYWHERE.) But it might have occurred more frequently in the warring type tribes with those injured, say a concussion or other brain injury from falling from a horse or sparring or a penetrating wound from a flint tipped arrow or spear in a non-vital area.
The answer magically appeared on my Facebook timeline the other day. It’s about as cruel as the above, so if you’re not in the mood, don’t read on. You’ve been warned.
According to this page on the pre-removal social life in the Choctaw tribe, the doctor/medicine man would do all they could to cure an individual with a malady. Then when either money to pay for the treatments or the patient lingered in an uncured state for too long, the doctor would then say that he had seen in a vision that nothing more could be done and the patient’s suffering would only end in death. The doctor would gather the patient’s family and relay this dream to them. Then either several members of the patient’s family and/or the doctor would ambush the patient and “end their suffering.”
Brutal. But at least it was quick and most importantly, it allowed the family to move on and focus on their own survival, which was certainly a major concern in primitive times. Shoot, daily survival is still a major concern in primitive or “developing” countries today!
Let’s take a moment and thank God for the hope modern medicine and therapy services provide to those individuals that develop a physical limitation.
And on a happier note, my tribe, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, held their annual Pow Wow this past weekend. So I’ll leave you with some sights and sounds of a past Pow Wow since the Nation hasn’t uploaded vids from this year’s Pow Wow yet. Enjoy!