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Aboriginal Health &
Cultural Diversity Glossary

M – Definitions

“Mad as a hatter”
“Few people who use the phrase “mad as a hatter” today realise that there’s a story of human suffering behind it; the term actually derives from an early industrial occupational disease. Felt hats were once very popular in North America and Europe; an example is the top hat. The best sorts were made from beaver fur, but cheaper ones used furs such as rabbit instead. A complicated set of processes was needed to turn the fur into a finished hat. With the cheaper sorts of fur, an early step was to brush a solution of a mercury compound—usually mercurous nitrate—on to the fur to roughen the fibres and make them mat more easily. Finishing processes included steaming the hat to shape and ironing it. In all these steps, hatters working in poorly ventilated workshops would breathe in the mercury compounds and accumulate the metal in their bodies. We now know that mercury is a cumulative poison that causes kidney and brain damage” (Quinion, 2003).

“mad hatter”:
“Although mercury may have been good for making felt hats, it turned out to be the cause of what became commonly known as the Hatter's Disease or mercury poisoning. What are the symptoms of mercury poisoning? Depression, mood swings, temper tantrums, loss of motor control, schizoid tendencies, and brain damage, just to name a few. In short, it causes one to appear quite "mad." No doubt making hats was considered to be a profession fraught with madness before medical science was able to determine the source of the problem. It was not until 1941 that the use of mercury was banned from the hat industry in the United States” (West, 2001).

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maize “Indian corn”:
“The Spanish word maize from 1555; Indian corn” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).

maize “Indian corn”:
“By 3,000 B.C., a primitive type of corn was being grown in the river valleys of New Mexico and Arizona. Then the first signs of irrigation began to appear, and by 300 B.C., signs of early village life” (An Outline of American History, 2003).

maize “Indian corn”:
“It is not known exactly when maize entered the diet or became a widely cultivated food source, but the combined results of carbon isotope and archaeological analysis indicate that maize consumption increased significantly between AD 500 and 1200” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 32).

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malnutrition:
“Malnutrition is often associated with land displacement and contamination of food supplies” (ICN, 2003).

malnutrition:
“Faulty and especially inadequate nutrition; word malnutrition dates back to only 1862” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).

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marginalization:
”Relegated to a marginal position within a society or group; word origin 1970” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).
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matrilineal:
“Matrilineal is a term meaning that descent is traced through the female line” (Aboriginal Women, Industry Canada, 2003).
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Medical Services Branch (MSB), 1962:
“In 1962, the Medical Services Branch (MSB) was formed by merging Indian Health and Northern Health Services with other independent federal field services. In 2000, the Medical Services Branch (MSB) was renamed the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB)” (Health Canada - First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, 2003).

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medicalization:
“Medicalization remains the predominant ideology underlying current health policies and services in Aboriginal services today” (Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, 1996, as cited in Browne & Smye, 2002).

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medicine:
“Aboriginals understand this term in the traditional sense where it means each person enjoys power flowing directly from spiritual and natural sources. However, the term connotes images of doctors, hospitals and pills” (Kuptana 1994:106; as cited in Stout, 1996).

medicine ‘bad medicine’:
“Illness may be interpreted as a result of "bad medicine" (sorcery) or "wishing someone ill” (Reynolds, 1993; Garro, 1990; as cited in Reynolds Turton, 1997).

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‘medicine chest’ clause:
“The only Treaty which specifically mentions medical care is Treaty six, which contains two clauses: “That in the events hereafter of the Indians comprised within this treaty being overtaken by any pestilence or by a general famine, the Queen, on being satisfied and certified thereof, by her Indian Agent or Agents, will grant to the Indians , assistance of such character as to extent as here chief Superintendent of Indian affairs shall deem necessary and sufficient to relieve the Indians of the calamity that shall have befallen them. And, that a Medicine chest shall be kept at the house of the Indian agent for the use and benefit of the Indians at the discretion of the Agent” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 143).
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medicine man:
“The term ‘medicine man’ denotes a healer “who has supernatural sanctions to make a person well and whom follows supernatural dictates in his healing activities” (Hultkrantz, 1992:17-18, as cited in Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 103).
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medicine shield:
“The medicine shield is an expression of the unique gifts that it's maker wishes to impart about his or her current life journey. This can be a new level of personal growth, or illustrate the next mountain a person wishes to climb. Every shield carries medicine through it's art and self-expression. Each shield is the essence of a time and space that carries certain aspects of knowledge. All persons carry shields of the lessons they learned from the four directions on the medicine wheel. They are the healing tools we give ourselves to sooth the spirit and empower the will. The truth needs no explanation, just reflection. This allows intuition to guide the heart so that humankind may celebrate more than it mourns” (Native American Spirituality, 2003).
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medicine wheel
“The Medicine Wheel is an ancient North American Native symbol that stands for "the sacredness of four" (Canadian Health Network, 2003).

medicine wheel:
“The Medicine Wheel is representative of American Indian Spirituality. The Medicine Wheel symbolizes the individual journey we each must take to find our own path. Within the Medicine Wheel are The Four Cardinal Directions and the Four Sacred Colors. The Circle represents the Circle of Life and the Center of the Circle, the Eternal Fire. The Eagle, flying toward the East, is a symbol of strength, endurance and vision. East signifies the renewal of life and the rebirth of Cherokee unity” (Native American Spirituality, 2003).

medicine wheel:
“The medicine wheel is a symbol for the wheel of life which is forever evolving and bringing new lessons and truths to the walking of the path. The Earthwalk is based on the understanding that each one of us must stand on every spoke, on the great wheel of life many times, and that every direction is to be honored. Until you have walked in others' moccasins, or stood on their spokes of the wheel, you will never truly know their hearts” (Native American Spirituality, 2003).

medicine wheel:
“The medicine wheel teaches us that all lessons are equal, as are all talents and abilities. Every living creature will one day see and experience each spoke of the wheel, and know those truths. It is a pathway to truth, peace and harmony. The circle is never ending, life without end” (Native American Spirituality, 2003).

medicine wheel:
“The Ojibwe cultural image of balance is the medicine wheel. Within this wheel, each aspect of being is situated in perfect balance with all other aspects. Each direction and its associated plants, spirits, animals, colors, minerals, and "ages of man" (ie, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, elder) are balanced by those of the other directions” (Reynolds Turton, 1997).

medicine wheel:
“The Natives believed “all people and creatures are equally important in this perfect circle of understanding growth and connectedness. Like the Medicine Wheel which represents life itself, learning is a continuous everchanging process of growth” (Medicine Wheel, n.d.).

medicine wheel as an assessment tool:
“Health care professionals can assist families in viewing the four dimensions on the medicine wheel, and can facilitate reclaiming harmony as individuals, family and community members. The Medicine wheel can be used as an assessment tool throughout the interviews phases” (Napoli & Gonzalez-Smith, 2001).

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meningitis:
“An infectious disease that strikes particularly hard at Aboriginal communities is ‘meningitis’, an infection of the lining of the brain which can have serious often fatal consequences” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 79).
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mental disorder:
“Mental disorder includes mental illness, mental subnormality, psychopathology and any other disorder or disability of the mind” (Mental Health Act, United States, 1959, cited in Prins, 1981, p. 421).

mental disorder:
“A mental disorder is a substantial disorder of thought, mood perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality, or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life” (Mental Health Act of Alberta, 1990).

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mental health:
“Mental health includes normal behavior, absence of mental disease, adjustment to the environment, a perception of reality and personality integration” (Scheller-King & Finneran, 1982, p. 58).

mental health:
“Mental health is a difficult concept to define. There is, however, some agreement in the literature that mental health is evident in the following personal characteristics: self-awareness and accurate self-perception; self-actualization (realizing one's full potential); autonomy (independence in thought and action); accurate perception of reality; commitment; possession of "mastery" skills (social and occupational ability to deal with the environment); and openness and flexibility “ (Health Canada, 2003).

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mental illness:
“Mental illness refers to the behaviour of a person who displays some or all of the following characteristics: social maladjustments; impaired reasoning or intellectual functioning; disorders of thinking, memory or orientation; delusions or disorders of perception; exaggerated, inappropriate or otherwise impaired emotional responsiveness; impaired judgment or impulse control; and unrealistic self-appraisal. Unlike the diagnosis of most physical disorders, diagnosis of a mental illness does not often imply a specific cause” (Health Canada, 2003).
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Métis:
“The Métis are mixed "Indian" and European descent” (Bellfy, 2001, p. 11).

Métis:
"The term refers to Aboriginal people of mixed First Nation and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis people, as distinct from First Nations people, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people. The Métis have a unique culture that draws on their diverse ancestral origins, such as Scottish, French, Ojibway and Cree" (Government of Saskatchewan- Government Relations and Aboriginal Affairs [GS-GRAA], 2003, ¶ 28).

Métis:
“People of mixed and European ancestry who identify themselves as Métis people, as distinct from First Nations people, Inuit or non-Aboriginal people. The Métis have a unique culture that draws on their diverse ancestral origins, such as Scottish, French, Ojibway and Cree” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2000).

Métis:
“The Métis are a post-contact phenomenon with roots in both the northern Aboriginal (Cree, Ojibwa, Chipewyan) and European cultures (especially French). Métis were the product of intermarriage between Aboriginal peoples and fur traders throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Out of these relationships, a distinctive Aboriginal culture emerged (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 10).

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missionary:
“Disciple, follower or messenger” (Thesaurus, 2003)

missionary activities (Jesuits):
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model(s): (See theories, theory)

Mohawk women: (see women)

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morbidity:
“Morbidity is the ratio of the number of cases of disease or condition to a given population. Morbidity is described in terms of incidence or prevalence rates” (Clark, 1996, p. 102).

morbidity:
“Morbidity is defined as the state of ill-health produced by a disease” (Dictionary of Epidemiology, 2002).

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mortality:
“Mortality is defined as the ratio of the number of deaths in various categories to a given population. Mortality rates describe deaths” (Clark, 1996, p. 101).

mortality:
“Mortality is defined as the per capita death rate in a population. The mortality rate is the reciprocal of the population life expectancy” ” (Dictionary of Epidemiology, 2002).

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myths:
“Vecsey emphasized the importance and validity of myths in the following definition: “A mythological corpus consists of (1) a usually complex network of myths which are (2) culturally important (3) imaginal (4) stories, conveying by means of (5) metamorphic and symbolic diction, (6) graphic imagery, and (7) emotional conviction and participation, (8) the primal, foundational accounts (9) of the real, experienced world, and (10) humankind's roles and relative statuses within it.[29](p2)” (Reynolds Turton, 1997).
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myths “Ojibwe”:
“The prominent themes from Ojibwe myths are as follows: "all life must be honored; the quality of life for one order depends on another; take life but not in anger; life for one means death for another. By honoring death, life itself is honored. Animal beings deserve life. They deserve honor" [30] (p57)” (Reynolds Turton, 1997).
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For the full references of works cited above, please see the Glossary References page >>

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