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Native American to teach healing practices at Minnesota West

Rod Ward, a Cree/Sioux Native American from Alberta, Canada, will host free public presentations Tuesday and Wednesday in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- Rod Ward, a Cree/Sioux Native American from Alberta, Canada, will host free public presentations from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and starting at noon Wednesday in the Culture Corner room of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.

Tuesday's presentation will focus on helping people find peace, healing and understanding their natural role in society, said Le Lucht, coordinator of diversity and multicultural affairs for Minnesota West in Worthington.

"He uses the Native American traditional way of life to help families live a productive life," Lucht said.

One of Ward's approaches involves using the Medicine Wheel, which can help people find peace, Lucht said.

Medicine Wheels are circles of stones used for healing, rituals, prayer, meditation and as visual reminders of a higher presence. Ward will explain how he uses this to achieve a balanced life, introduce clinical models and talk about traditional approaches to healing, Lucht said.

In addition to Medicine Wheel teachings, Lucht said Ward has been sun dancing for almost 20 years, and has helped families deal with trauma for about 15 years.

While there are variations of the sun dance, most involve dancing, singing and drumming. The purpose is to show a regeneration cycle between life and death.

Lucht emphasized that Ward will explain these methods, not actually perform healing services at the events.

"People look for different ways to live their lives," Lucht said. "A lot of Native American ways are healthy, positive approaches."

Ward has worked almost nine years in the Canadian federal prison system, where he directs trauma workshops and counseling. He also conducts services such as the Sweat Lodge, healing circles and pipe ceremonies, Lucht said.

Ward will talk more about his work with the prison system during Wednesday's speech, Lucht said. Topics include therapeutic and traditional approaches to healing, and the continuum of care concept as it relates to Native Americans.

While that speech is geared toward the Minnesota West community, Lucht said the public may attend as well. She requests anyone wanting to attend Wednesday's event to call her at 372-3423.

Ward's wife, Becky, grew up in Worthington, and although the couple now resides in Canada, Lucht said they still maintain ties to the community. Lucht said she's looking forward to meeting Ward, learning more about his approaches to life and healing, and broadening her horizons.

People should come for the education and to better understand those around them, Lucht said.

Minnesota West is about connecting with the community and sharing information on diverse cultures, she added.

The Minnesota West diversity program provides the financial support for events like these as a way to give back to the community, Lucht said.

Ward could not be reached for comment Friday.

Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.