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Resilience and Emotional Healing

Donna Ennis
5/16/14

Today, I have come full circle and I am back working for my Tribe, Fond du Lac Reservation. I have been welcomed back with open arms. I hope to work the last ten years of my career serving Native people and empowering and inspiring others to overcome the trauma that life deals us on a daily basis. I want to show others how to cope with the stress of being Native in a racist America.

Losing my job has been the best thing that ever happened to me. There isn’t a better way to delve into your emotional and spiritual reserves and discover if you have what it takes to recover from a traumatic experience like job loss. Racism is a form of psychological violence or a cultural trauma. For the past ten months I have fought a daily battle to not give in to self pity. I have had to develop an attitude of gratitude. I survived, emotionally intact, partially by returning to the old ways of giving in the community and reverting to traditional values of sharing and cooperation. I surrounded myself with my friends and solicited advice from the Elders. Everything for everyone and nothing for myself.

 Dr Martin Broken Leg, co-founder of Circle of Hope, offers training on the effect of family experience on resiliency and states that family life is the foundational strength in resiliency. This has been the journey I have been on for the past ten months. The conclusion I have reached is that how resilient we are as an individual, a family, a community and as a Tribal Nation depends on how we heal from historical, intergenerational and cultural trauma that is part of our everyday life and is the key to our survival as a people.

Donna Ennis is employed in the Behavioral Health Program and is a tribal elder at Fond du Lac Reservation. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Department of Social Work.

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Two Bears Growling's picture
Sister of the People, don't be disappointed in recent events, but be thankful that the Creator has decided it's time for you to return to the People & help those who appreciate & need you most of all. ................................................................................................................................. While a number of these washichu's don't always appreciate the help they have or are offered, we Native folks do! So many times no one seems to care about if our tribes live or die. We have to look out for our own selves & our own peoples. ................................................................................................................................. Consider this as a time of inner renewal, appreciation from your Native culture & being around those who bring joy into your life. I have always found it a time of much happiness when I am able to be around Native people. It is just like being at a family reunion surrounded by love.
Two Bears Growling
Donnaennis's picture
Mi gwetch for your kind words Two Bears. I am in a pretty good place in my life but I couldn't have done it without support from all of you.
Donnaennis
Two Bears Growling's picture
Donna, you are so very welcome for what I had to say. We Native folks have to stick together because it's for certain so many others don't give a rip about us. To this day when I am in a predominate white area I STILL witness our people at times very much disrespected, abused & mistreated. Some of them even by law enforcement! They may not do it in the daylight, but they sure as hell have under the cover of darkness! I personally knew of cases like this & not a damn thing was done to these white officers who abused Native friends of mine! ................................................................................................................................. Sister of the People, keep on keeping on, striving for justice for our families out here & may the Creator bless you & keep all harm from you & those so special in your life. Kind Regards, Two Bears Growling
Two Bears Growling
monkette's picture
Thank-you for your nice story on Resilience and Emotional Healing. I enjoyed very much hearing your history and story. Some of us will never heal from the trauma and I'm surprised that we even survived living in the placements. As for my family, telling my story to them is a matter of survival. I am hoping they can start the healing part.
monkette
Donnaennis's picture
As soon as the agency got rid of me by eliminating my position they immediately begin looking in the community for a Native person to do some of the cultural services that I had been providing. I felt pretty confident that nobody in the community would step up out of respect for me. The person that they hired as a "consultant" was a self described "medicine man" in our community and someone I had known for over 25 years and whom I considered a friend. I begged him not to work for the agency but he just threw our friendship away and said "money is money" and accepted their offer. This is an example of internalized oppression that goes on in our communities.
Donnaennis