Medicine Wheel Project

Medicine Wheel Project

Medicine Wheel Project

A Mind/Body Wellness Initiative of The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Partnership with The Cedar Tree Institute


The Medicine Wheel Project’s Mind/Body Strategies include:

  • An overview of how the body regulates stress and its key role in diabetes management
  • The important role of Anishinaabe traditional teachings in improving mental, physical and spiritual health based on tribal values and strengths
  • Instruction in utilizing four specific mind/body techniques for managing blood pressure
  • The role of breathing, mindful movement practice, visualization, and cognitive reframing to assist in setting health goals
  • Seven strategies to improve the immune system and increase resilience
  • Strategies to reinforce social support for physical, emotional, and spiritual health

The Promise

Walking in Balance

Mind-Body Medicine & Stress Reduction Strategies

The challenge of diabetes, and chronic illness are complex phenomenon that impact a wide cross section of populations across North America. Native American populations are especially vulnerable. Mind-body medicine perspectives are increasingly being appropriated to improve health. This project links integrated mind-body interventions with indigenous (Anishinaabe) teachings.

Based upon KBIC’s ongoing health programs and in partnership with KBIC’s Health Systems, The Medicine Wheel Project will work with volunteers diagnosed with Type II diabetes from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community with an intention to increase wellness and improve emotional health. Traditional cultural practices and tribal elders will be invited to help frame and direct the project over the ninemonths of the Projects duration.

Over the course of the Medicine Wheel Project, twenty to twenty-four volunteers, including KBIC Health System staff, will implement a series of personal practices to improve measures of well-being. Nine consultations will be carried out with each Project participant. Small groups (cohorts of 4 individuals) will be designed and available, when needed, for ongoing support and communication.

All information and data collected will be held in confidentiality by the KBIC for use as deemed appropriate in supporting community health goals and objectives.

Native Greenhouse

Setting a foundation for health and wellness for KBIC’s next generation.


Learning about the brain and its function, learning how to manage stress through mind/body strategies that include

  • Breathing Exercises
  • Visualization and Mindfulness Practices
  • Cognitive restructuring
  • Gentle structured movement
  • Personal and Community Rituals

Utilizing recent research on diet and exercise and appropriating that information to shape personal, realistic goals for participants.

Building small group support to encourage reflection and commitment for a healthy and balanced personal lifestyle.


Three educational workshops will be open to all interested tribal members. A lunch of traditional Anishinaabe foods will be provided following each workshop.

Site: KBOCC – Ojibwa Community College L’Anse, Michigan


Workshops 10 A.M – 12 P.M.
Lunch (traditional Anishinaabe foods)

12- 1 P.M.

January 26, 2018
March 23, 2018
May 18, 2018
June 15, 2018

Individual stipends of $300 available for tribal participants.

For more information & to register contact Kathy Mayo, KBIC Health Systems 906.353.4519

The Medicine Wheel Project


The symbol of the Medicine Wheel is appropriated across North American by many indigenous communities. For this KBIC Wellness Initiative, traditional medicines used in Ojibwa ceremonies and spiritual practices are identified with the four directions. Sweetgrass, sage, tobacco, and cedar.

The Medicine Wheel is an interconnected system of teachings relating to the seasons, directions, elements, colors and the cycle of life. It speaks of the need for balance, harmony and respect. It is an ancient system of traditional indigenous knowledge that many tribal peoples share under many different names. Experience continues to be a fundamental principle of the Anishinaabe learning processes.”

(Ref:) Mary R. Favorite,
2004 White Earth Reservation


Michael Grossman, M.D., is a family practice physician at Bell Hospital in Ishpeming, Michigan and also Medical Director for UP Home Health and Hospice. In 2002, Dr. Grossman was designated Michigan’s Family Physician of the Year, in part for his work with childhood diabetes. He also works as a consultant with Great Lakes Recovery Centers, an addiction treatment program with offices across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and continues to participate, along with the Medicine Wheel Project’s cofacilitator, in clinical training at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jon Magnuson, M.Div., MSW, is a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal and currently serves as the Director of The Cedar Tree Institute, a nonprofit organization that initiates projects in the areas of mental health, religion, and the environment. He holds graduate degrees in psychology and religion and has served as instructor with The American Indian Studies Department at the University of Washington and the Center for Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University. He coordinated the Zaagkii Project, an intertribal Native Plant Restoration and Protection Initiative with KBIC from 2010-2017 in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.


Kathy Mayo, Interim Director KBIC Health Systems
Keweenaw Bay Indian Cultural Committee Elders

Helen Kahn, PhD,
Northern Michigan University

Greg Fricchione, MD
John Denninger, MD,Phd
The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine,
Massachusetts General Hospital,
Harvard Medical School