Native medicine takes center stage


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, left, and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios jointly sign at the Office of the Governor conference room the proclamation that declares Sept. 15-21 as Simånan Åmut Natibu, Sumwóólal Sáfeyal Falúw and Native Medicine Week.

There has been a renewed global attention and interest in the use of traditional medicine in the last decades, according to a World Health Organization report, and the CNMI could be at the center of this, with its local practice being revived on the island.

Toward this end, the week of Sept. 15-21 has been declared Simånan Åmut Natibu, Sumwóólal Sáfeyal Falúw (Native Medicine Week) as part of the celebration of Chamorro and Carolinian Cultural Heritage Month.

As part of the celebration, the IAO and the Inetnun Åmut yan Kutturan Natibu/Mwiischil Safey me Kkoor Aramasal Faluw will host traditional medicinal workshops on Rota on Sept. 13 and 17, and on Sept. 19 at the IAO Office at Capital Hill, and on Sept. 21 at Paseo de Marianas during the International Festival of Cultures in Garapan.

“Most of us know [traditional medicine] exists in our society. We are starting to lose them,” said Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacio, “but I am very positive that with the organizations coming forth to try to bring this practice back, we can make it strong again in our community.”

Maigu’ Lalu’, Gulundrina, and Yetbas Babui are among the medicinal plants on display at the Governor’s Office during Tuesday’s proclamation of Sept. 15-21 as Native Medicine Week.

Palacios praised the initiatives of the Indigenous Affairs Office, the Office of Carolinian Affairs, and the various non-profit organizations that are taking it upon themselves to continue to perpetuate the cultural and local practices of local medicines and healing arts.

Isidoro T. Cabrera, president of Inetnun Åmut Yan Kutturan Natibu, said the activities are being done to recognize and promote the local medicine culture, and to show the community that it is still being practiced for the benefit of the younger generation.

In an island culture, the belief of using local medicine is very important and prevalent. The use of traditional medicine for healing purposes is widely used in Asian countries, in Micronesia, and the South Pacific. The Chamorro and Carolinian people of the CNMI have a long history of traditional healing and traditional medicine.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at

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