Thank you for your thoughtful words. Reading your article, I am reminded of the 1980s and early 1990s, when there was a tide of healing activities in Indian Country. The terms historical trauma and unresolved grief and loss began to surface. In 1982, Phil Lane, Jr. of The Four Worlds Development Project, Lethbridge University, facilitated a gathering of elders that sought to address the chaos (alcohol, drugs, violence, suicide) surfacing in many of our nations across North America. This gathering was chronicled and the principles of change shared by the Elders were developed into a strategy to eradicate addiction in Indian Country. The change principles, strategy, case studies and more are still available (free) at the Four Worlds Development Project website (www.4Worlds.org). The principles of sustained change/healing expressed by the Elders are as follows: 1) change is preceded by a vision; 2) change comes from within (for an individual and for a community); 3) individual change goes hand in hand with community change; and 4) a great learning must take place. This great learning is to be wholistic; to learn about the interconnectedness (i.e., relationship) of all things (in both the seen and unseen worlds); to understand our roles and responsibilities in context of this larger view; to realize, honor, and move with the cycles that influence all living things (e.g., medicine wheel teachings), to learn how to move through the cycles, and much more. Phil Lane published/produced some meaningful resources in those early days that continue to be first picks when recommending healing tools to others: The Sacred Tree, a book (and curriculum) on medicine wheel teachings is a must read. Healing the Hurts is a video that deals specifically with trauma (boarding school, intergenerational) and The Honor of All, a series of videos that powerfully depict the healing of one community (Alkali Lake) that was experiencing nearly 100% addiction, along with related violence, neglect and abuse of children, unemployment, and more. One person, moved by the pain on the faces of the children, decided to stop drinking. Soon, both husband and wife were sober. Once their thinking cleared and their recovery stabilized, they saw that getting sober, although the critical first step, was just the beginning of wellness. They saw that the quality of their healing, and that of others, was tied to community change - that all things are interconnected. You see Phil Lane facilitating healing gatherings at Alkali Lake. Many worked on unresolved trauma suffered in the boarding schools. They cried, expressed their pain, forgave, and worked toward reconciliation and restored harmony. Very, very powerful. As a community in healing, the community of Alkali Lake set about creating a better community life for the children. They intervened on bootleggers, worked with leadership (and assumed leadership) to make government program changes, created safety for other children, rehabilitated housing, supported others in recovery, shared community honoring gatherings, laughed together, celebrated their identity as a community in healing, celebrated their cultural traditions, participated in traditional healing activities, and much more. Community change efforts were gentle, but vision-inspired and firmly executed. Not moralistic or shaming; simply accountable and responsible. The honor of one, is the honor of all. In giving back, all are raised up. In addition to the Phil Lane materials, we've been fortunate in the Haudenosaunee territories (New York State and Canada), since the early 1990s, to have Jane Middelton-Moz lead several healing gatherings. Jane, along with Anna Latimer and others, was instrumental in the founding of the National Association for Native American Children of Alcoholics (NANACOA)in late 1980s. This organization played a huge role in the mobilization and healing of American Indians across North America. They learned early on that the focus in their activities must always be on the group, not an individual - the we-ness, not the I-ness. So for quite a few years there were opportunities to participate in healing gatherings and to learn about historical trauma, co-dependency, spirituality, and much more. This group of dedicated, humble folks helped so many find their path to healing. They were always willing to help with our own smaller conferences and gatherings. Gratitude goes out to them. Since NANACOA disbanded several years ago, there is no longer a larger conference style gathering able to draw 100s from across North America to participate in multiple tracks of teachings, deep sharing, celebration of culture, and larger group activities. So grateful to have had them though - many tears, many laughs, so much camaraderie, truly a spiritual experience! Perhaps things have come full circle and another organization is about to emerge! Note: Jane still comes for smaller community-specific gatherings, which are quite powerful, as well. Thank you for awakening these memories!
Thursday, August 4, 2011 - 20:57