August 10, 2009

Menominee forum on "historical trauma"

Tribal summit:  Hardships of the past become trials of today

By Brian BullThe Menominee Indian Nation is holding an educational forum Tuesday (8/11) on how violent and disruptive events from centuries past can take a toll on today’s communities, or what’s called “historical trauma.”

Themes of war, genocide, and colonization are common for most Native Americans. What may not be so apparent, says Dr. Ann Bullock, is how past conflicts are still felt by Indian people in the present. Bullock is Minnesota Chippewa, and directs medical services for a Cherokee band in North Carolina. At the forum, she’ll talk about how tragic events in the last 500 years manifest themselves today as obesity, domestic violence, and substance abuse among native families. She says the point isn’t for people to stay in the “victim mode” but to understand how things in “Indian Country” came to be how they are. Holocaust survivors pass on traumatization on to their kids, which changes their behaviors and future generations within the family.

Menominee tribal member Gina Washinawatok helped organize the event. She says beyond wars and losing traditions like most tribes, her people’s well-being was especially hurt when the federal government terminated their official status nearly 50 years ago. The tribe’s schools and hospital closed, and there were such abrupt changes and significant impacts to their political system, law enforcement, and economic resources.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see How Oppression Repeats Itself and Genocide Causes Suicide.

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