May 01, 2007

Native violence isn't traditional

Violence is Not Our Tradition!During our recent three month Native Lens Workshop at Muckleshoot, we attended a number of teen gatherings, talking groups and family health meetings. We listened to the youth as they voiced their concerns about issues negatively impacting their lives. They expressed concerns not only about the immediate situations happening on the rez but also how distressing it is to always see the news, newspapers, media making violence especially domestic violence look cool or glamorous. Some of the girls felt that the media was directly responsible for so many people staying in bad relationships because all the negative hype makes the abusive situaion seem normal!

In the various stories we realized that violence was a root cause or action in much of what was distressing these young persons, everything from peer violence, gang violence, domestic abuse and more. We asked the youth how they felt the violence begins and how they wanted to talk about these stories using digital media. One young man, Stephan, was very clear that in order to break the cycle of violence learning the ways to be in a positive relationship from an early age was the most important step. Also, from the talks most everyone felt that the violence in Native communities were a result of acculturation and from the historical abuse perpetrated by the European colonization and the resulting assimilation into Euro-American cultures, traditions and teachings. From this understanding it seemed clear that the youth had a very important and special perspective to relay to others; violence is not our tradition!

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