The Scalpel And The Silver Bear Essay

The Scalpel And The Silver Bear Essay

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The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: Two Worlds Collide
The Navajo creation story explains that medicine was brought to the people by an ancient owl. This owl sent down a magic bundle containing the powers of healing to the new world. For thousands of years Navajo people have used this knowledge to heal and live in harmony with each other. As a product of two worlds, Dr. Lori Alvord was one of the first people to combine modern medicine with Navajo beliefs by overcoming cultural differences.
The Scalpel and the Silver Bear follows Lori Alvord on her journey from humble beginnings on the Navajo Reservation to a surgeon in the operating room. She was raised in a small community in the Navajo Nation which spans territory the size of West Virginia and provides refuge to over 250,000 Navajos (Navajo). Alvord recalls that by nearly any standards it would be considered a third world country; most houses didn’t even have running water or electricity. The simple life style of the people on the reservation reflected that of their ancestors who lived in harmony with the universe and built relationships with the earth.
When Alvord was just sixteen she left the comfort of the “rez” for Dartmouth University. The decision was not easy as she saw what happened to others who had left the reservation. Her greatest fear was that she would lose the Navajo way, but in the end she knew that no matter where she was, “in my heart I was all Navajo” (9). Once there, she was one of only fifty Native Americans. After graduating from Dartmouth she attended Stanford Medical School with the intent of bringing western medicine to the reservation.
Alvord’s autobiography embodies much of what we have learned about life...


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... be seen by many as betraying tribal secrets. Alvord decided her experiences were too great not to be shared and wanted them to inspire many others, Navajo and non-Navajo alike.
Alvord’s cultural conflict between her two worlds finally culminates when she marries her current husband Jon, a white man. It was a melding of two polar-opposite cultures in which Alvord finally becomes comfortable with her own identity. She is no longer that awkward half-white girl living on a Navajo Reservation. She is a strong and proud woman who used the knowledge of both of her cultures for good. Her identity in relation to others is constantly changing. She begins as an alien to both Navajos and whites. By the end of her journey she has successfully embraced both identities and become a successful surgeon who integrates the ancient practices of the Navajo into her healing.

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