Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Lesson 3 – The Caretaker: Good Medicine

Goal: Caretaking of self and others

Activity: Listen to Judy’s life experience journey in Video 1

Read and review the information and questions presented


Caretaker is someone has taken the responsibility of caring for someone or something.  When we become responsible for the care of others we meet their basic living needs food, shelter, and safety.

Sometimes we care for younger siblings, grandparents, or even our parents.  Sometimes the conditions under which we became responsible were not by choice but we accepted the responsibilities.

Situations when you can become the caretaker:

· Parents/Parent/Guardian is physically disabled

· Parents/Parent/Guardian has mental or emotional disabilities

· Parents/Parent/Guardian work two jobs

· Parents/Parent/Guardian work at night

· Parents/Parent/Guardian abuses alcohol or drugs

· Parents/Parent/Guardian physically abuse me or my siblings

· Parents/Parent/Guardian is absent due to incarceration

If you have the added responsibilities of caring for others it can affect your self-care

Self care:

· Eating a balanced diet

· Getting enough rest

· Getting enough physical activities

· Connecting with life outdoors

· Connecting with other people

· Spiritual connections

· Time for self to think, write, and daydream

Our ancestors lived with the seasonal changes; it is a form of harmony and balance.  They learned to do various things like gathering, harvesting and preparing foods during the spring, summer and fall seasons.  During the winter season more time was spent indoors, sharing and telling stories, working on crafts for trade and daily use, it is a resting and rebuilding time.

…we also look at when we live with the seasons, when we follow seasonal cycles…getting more rest, sleeping more in the wintertime when the days are short and the nights are long, eating hardier foods, giving ourselves time to go into that dream time…

Self care

In the modern world self care is about hygiene, diet, exercise, and developing healthy habits, this is usually a part of our health studies class in school but self care goes beyond that in the lives of the traditional American Indian lifestyles.

Traditionally our ancestors and elders practiced living in harmony and balance, but what do we really mean by harmony and balance?


It doesn’t mean that everything is going to be blissful, happy, and in order, because each day brings something or someone new into our lives.  Your personal goals and ideas can conflict with those new energies causing disruptions to our internal calmness and external energies.

Harmony and balance requires one to make adjustments both internally and externally to handle conflicting energies or problems to fit into your particular comfort zones.


Harmony is a state of internal calm that occurs when all the parts of your life are balanced with each other and with the world around you.

Judy talks about the seasons and following seasonal cycles and how we should recognize these external changes and make adjustments to be in balance with these changes so that our physical needs are met, like getting more rest and eating hardier foods during the winter season.  When we make the adjustments we bring balance within and with the external energies that we have no control over.

During the winter season the days are short and we don’t have as much social time with friends and family.  When the days are shorter and the nights are longer along with the cold and wet weather conditions some people can become depressed are more susceptible to colds and flu.

Judy has taken the traditional tea ceremony into her classrooms and in workshops to educate students and community members about the health benefits of teas and the ceremonies that go along with them.

Benefits of Green tea / Black tea

· Is an antioxidant that protects against heart disease and cancer.

· May be useful in controlling inflammation from injury or diseases such as arthritis.

· Tea flavonoids may be bone builders

· Tea can lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

· prevents blood from clumping and forming


Judy explains who reconnecting with the plant world helps in healing the person, plants, and earth when we go out and gather the plants, sing the songs, and reconnect with plant relatives.

She talks about how her students reconnect with the plant world and the outdoors after they experience making the tea and going out to be reintroduced to the plant world.

This reconnection brings healing to all involved but also brings balance into the lives of those who share in this experience.

This is an example of how different people with different goals and intentions come into her class and make adjustments to their external environments and conflicting energies to find balance with others and themselves.


In Judy’s interview she talks about how an elder taught her about the tea ceremony they practiced.


· You are to gather some information on the health benefits of tea from your tribe or any other Indigenous people.

· Each person will present his information on their chosen tea; ceremonies, where it is grown, who uses it, etc.

♦♦If it is possible to find a tea made with local ingredients, find out where all the ingredients can be gathered and take a group walk.  This can be a time to reconnect with the plant world.

If it is possible to brew the tea in the classroom setting it can enhance the group discussion.

· Select a tea to brew during the presentations or bring a carafe filled with hot tea.

· When tea is ready, serve and begin a group discussion

Group discussion topics:

· Harmony and Balance

· Reconnecting

· Self care

· Plant world

· Healing


Journal Reflection

Reflect on the classroom exercise and group discussion, how have these experiences helped you and any other thoughts or ideas you may have.

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