Kenneth "Bear Hawk"
Cohen, MA, MSTh
Ken Cohen is a health and cultural educator, a traditional healer, and scholar of indigenous medicine. He is the recipient of the Alyce and Elmer Green Award for Innovation and Lifetime Achievement in Energy Medicine. Best known for his pioneering work in Chinese healing arts (qigong), he has followed the "Red Road" of Native American wisdom as his personal spiritual path for most of his 60+ years.
Ken comes from a multi-cultural and multi-racial background. Though respecting the Judaism of his North African and Russian ancestors, Ken was not brought up within this religion or with knowledge of its customs. Ken was the only apprentice to Cherokee spiritual teacher Keetoowah Christie (great grandson of Ned Christie), during the 1970s and was one of two people comprehensively trained by the esteemed medicine man, Rolling Thunder. He also worked with elders from the Northeast, Northwest, and Northern Plains. In 1987, he was ceremonially adopted by Andrew Naytowhow, a Cree healer from Sturgeon Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada and maintains close ties with his adoptive family.
In his learning journey, Ken has been blessed to receive teachings from many indigenous wisdom-caretakers. He has a Hawaiian Ohana (Family) thanks to his hanai aunty, Kahilio Pua, a traditional Kahuna Lapa’au (Healer), with whom he trained in the land of Breath (Ha), Water (Wai) and Divine Spirit (I). Over the years, he has also been closely associated with other respected Kupuna (Elders). He studied African Zulu medicine for five years with Fred Lee “Ingwe,” in the lineage of the high Sanusi (Holy Man) Vusamzulu Credo Mutwa and became a keeper of the “bones,” a tool for divination and guidance from the realm of the spirits and ancestors. Not long thereafter, he was one of five North American students of a master dibia (diviner) of the Igbo Tribe, Nigeria and was, himself, initiated as a high dibia and taught the ways of healing and contacting the Agbara (Spirits). How did he accomplish this without being either 150 years old or a dilettante? The secret is dedication, hard work, personal sacrifice, and not being distracted or restricted by a university environment and its “headucational” requirements. (Yet after sitting on various Ph.D. committees and teaching graduate school courses, a university awarded him a Masters Degree even though he only had a high school diploma!)
Ken Cohen demonstrated his healing abilities as one of nine "exceptional healers" studied by the Menninger Institute. He is a popular speaker at scientific, healing, and theological conferences. His lectures have been sponsored by the Mayo Clnic, the American Cancer Society, the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, the World Congress on Energy Medicine, Health Canada, and numerous universities. But most important to him is the recognition he has received among his indigenous brothers, sisters, and elders. His talks and keynotes are commonly hosted by Native American/ First Nations cultural organizations, conferences, and health centers. He has served as an Elder in Residence and traditional healer in many indigenous communities.
Ken is the author of Honoring the Medicine: The Essential Guide to Native American Healing (Random House), winner of the Books for A Better Life U.S. National Book Award. Ken was the first person to write chapters about Native American medicine in U.S. medical school textbooks and journals, such as Wilderness Medicine, Essentials of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and Explore: The Journal of Science and Health. He has also written about Native American culture and social justice issues for News from Indian Country and various indigenous media. Believing that culture and protection of rights go hand in hand, Ken is an environmental, social justice, and Native rights activist.
Ken lives at nine thousand foot elevation at the edge of the Indian Peaks Wilderness in Colorado.
He is a parent, a grandparent, and husband of Curandera Grace Alvarez Sesma
Note: Ken Cohen
was adopted by Andrew Naytowhow (Cree), Sturgeon Lake
First Nation, during
the 1980s, the
same elder who wrote the introduction to his book, Honoring
the Medicine. Although adopted by a Cree family, this does
not mean he is a member of the Cree Nation—a political
designation. Adoption by a family does not confer membership
in a sovereign Native Nation nor does it magically change
a person’s ethnicity. Unfortunately, in spite of
numerous letters and protests by Ken Cohen, several websites
continue to report that Ken is an adopted member of the
Cree Nation. He strongly protests this misinformation.