The Utah Crime Victim Reparations board is considering compensating Native American victims for traditional healing, if they request it over medical treatment or counseling.
The board on Wednesday created a subcommittee to study the issue of compensation for healing ceremonies performed by qualified medicine men.
The state currently provides financial support for inpatient and outpatient mental health services performed by licensed practitioners, said CVR director Dan Davis.
FBI victim specialist Sue McNeil has researched the issue for the board and said a traditional healing ceremony "is an attempt to bring that person back into balance."
McNeil's recommendations included pre-approving procedures, ensuring medicine men are qualified and recognized by tribal leaders, and requiring an itemized claim for services.
Markus Erlich of Valley Mental Health said he'd like to see more research. It would be difficult, he said, "to be asked to authorize a procedure I haven't been formally trained on for a conduction that I have (been trained on)."
Concerns raised included whether the category belonged in a nonmedical area; whether drugs, such as peyote, could be used; and if it would open the door for other nontraditional cultures.
Reparation officer JoAnn Huber expressed another concern: negative ceremonies.
"One of my victims believed she miscarried because of a ceremony," she said.
Assistant Attorney General Cheryl Luke said it would be easier legally if the board did open the process up to other nontraditional groups.
McNeil did not expect too many requests for the services. States such as Arizona, New Mexico and Michigan that compensate for traditional healing only receive one or two requests a year, she said. Usually one or two ceremonies are sufficient, she said.She said each tribe has different way off approaching such ceremonies. In some cultures, healing is a gift that can't be paid for. Other healers do accept monetary compensation.