"Looking back at the past few centuries of America’s westward expansion, we can witness a long history of cataclysmic events inflicted upon generations of American Indians. Our country’s growth was at the expense of the continent’s indigenous peoples who suffered genocide, dislocation, and other unspeakable patterns of violence on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. The adverse effects of this history carried down from generation to generation are known as historical trauma."
- Wisdom of the Elders
"Examining the Theory of Historical Trauma Among Native Americans," Kathleen Brown-Rice, The Professional Counselor (Oct. 2014).
Discovering Our Story - Transcending Historical Trauma
On WISDOM’s web pages, Native people learn more about historical trauma, its history, its effects, and most importantly, its treatment. This site, available at no cost to users, presents teachings designed to help re-establish respect and harmony throughout all generations of Native families and communities. These teachings integrate positive identity development with building healthy relationships, encouraging appropriate conduct and skills development, and the restoring of traditional cultural values back into our family relationships. It provides hope for those affected by historical trauma, not just Native people, but all peoples.
The Destruction of Indian Families
The wholesale separation of Indian Children from their families is perhaps the most tragic and destructive aspect of American Indian life today. Surveys in states with large Indian populations conducted by the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) in 1969 and again in 1974 indicate that approximately 25-35 percent of all Indian children separated from their families and placed in foster homes, adoptive homes, or institutions.
Historical Trauma and Parenting
This January 25, 2013 document covers (1) Historical Trauma and Historical Unresolved Grief Definition and the Historical Trauma Response Features; (2) Collective Trauma History and Negative Boarding School Experiences' Impact upon Parenting; and (3) Incorporating Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief Components in Parenting Interventions.
Historical Trauma Among the Native American Population: What Service Providers Need to Know
This 2006 document was developed by the Indian Country Child Trauma Center where their mission is to develop culturally appropriate interventions and improve treatment and services for all children and adolescents in Indian Country who have experienced traumatic events.
The Historical Trauma Response Among Natives and Its Relationship with Substance Abuse: A Lakota Illustration, Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, PhD, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 35 (1), 7-13, 2003. (Unfortunately, this article is not available for free online.)
Practice-Informed Approaches to Addressing Substance Abuse and Trauma Exposure in Urban Native Families Involved with Child Welfare, Lucero, N.M., & Bussey, M., 94(4), Child Welfare League of America, 97-117 (2015).
Practice-based evidence indicates that the trauma-informed and culturally responsive model developed by the Denver Indian Family Resource Center (DIFRC) shows promise in reducing out-of-home placements and re-referrals in urban Native families with substance abuse and child welfare concerns, while also increasing caregiver capabilities, family safety, and child well-being. This article provides strategies from the DIFRC approach that non-Native caseworkers and supervisors can utilize to create an environment in their own agencies that supports culturally based practice with Native families while incorporating a trauma-informed understanding of service needs of these families.
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