‘Older Than America’: A Feature Length Film by Georgina Lightning

I’m excited to post this blog and and link you to Georgina Lightning’s film ‘Older than America’. Put  your feet up and watch this outstanding film about cultural genocide and historical trauma. Thank you for making this available, Georgina.

‘A woman’s haunting visions reveal a Catholic priest’s sinister plot to silence her mother from speaking the truth about the atrocities that took place at her Native American boarding school.

A contemporary drama of suspense, Older Than America delves into the lasting impact of the cultural genocide and loss of identity that occurred at these institutions across the United States and Canada.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 1)

3702998“Indigenous people possess a gift. This is a gift of healing, strong relationships and a deep connection to land, from a culture that has flourished over many thousands of years.” David Clark and Michael Liu

1. Nature of the Problems
As a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture and land, Indigenous people of Australia (and other countries) have suffered a trauma that has been passed unwittingly down through the generations.

The consequences of this historical, or intergenerational, trauma include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence and abuse, self-harm and suicide.

Today, the impact of historical trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, experiences of racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements. It is exacerbated by closing down of remote Indigenous communities, destruction of Indigenous sacred sites, and turning over of Indigenous land to the mining industry.  

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‘2015 – The Year of Reinventing the Wellbriety Movement’ by Don Coyhis

5de8955239fe8af6972c6889e71ffa26Don Coyhis posted this powerful message on the White Bison website recently. As some of you know, I think very highly of Don and the amazing Native American Wellbriety Movement.

‘As some of you know, I had a stroke on May 11, 2014, Mothers Day. Given the reality of the event, we made some choices and decisions regarding White Bison and the Wellbriety Movement.

We hired Carlos Rivera as the Executive Director, promoted Kateri Coyhis as the Director of the Wellbriety Training Institute, and I moved to Chairman of the Board to provide support to the new White Bison team.

Thanks to the prayers of so many, my recovery was touched by a miracle.   I had excellent therapists and moved from a wheelchair, to a walker, threw away the cane in August and was back to 90% recovery by September and have continued to recover since then.

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People

4323131_origSince moving to Australia, I’ve become increasingly saddened, concerned and angered by the way that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are treated by many non-Indigenous people (including government). As a friend said the other day, it has to be seen to be believed.

The damage that has been done to Indigenous people here (and in other countries) as a result of colonisation is huge and it continues today. It is a great demonstration of the resilience of Indigenous people that they have survived.

I’ve decided to devote most of my time from now on to working with Indigenous people. I’ll be running this website and working on recovery-related projects.

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“We Shall Remain”

I love this film and song. Says so much and really impacts. It can have a healing influence.

‘WE SHALL REMAIN was created to address the effects of historical trauma in our tribal communities. Many times, these untended wounds are at the core of much of the self-inflicted pain experienced in Native America.

Much like fire, this pain can either be devastatingly destructive or wisely harnessed to become fuel that helps us to rise up and move forward in life with joy, purpose and dignity.’

Don Coyhis, Founder of White Bison

coyhisI found this great biography of a special Native American, Don Coyhis.

Founder, White Bison, Purpose Prize Winner 2009. Coyhis developed Wellbriety, a substance abuse recovery program that taps the power of Native American culture, tradition, and community to help heal his people.

Don Coyhis felt emptiness in sobriety. He found himself going through the motions at support group meetings, disconnected from the reasons why he shouldn’t drink.

Searching for understanding, he turned to his Native American roots. During a five-day fast in the Colorado mountains, Coyhis saw a white bison rise from the ground – to him, a sign that his recovery would be incomplete without his culture. Coyhis founded a nonprofit offering native-focused recovery resources to communities across the country, and in turn, launched a movement called Wellbriety.

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Sharing Culture

rsz_img_2891Please check out my new website, Sharing Culture, which focuses on Aboriginal healing. Here is what we say on our home page:

What is Sharing Culture?
Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse  and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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‘Intergenerational Trauma & Healing, Part 1’ by Joe Solanto

For a while now, one of my blogs each day will focus on historical (or intergenerational) trauma and our new initiative Sharing Culture. Today, I introduce the first of three videos by Dr Joe Solanto of Canada about intergenerational trauma and healing.

In these videos, Joe ‘discusses what trauma is, how the experiences of colonization “qualify” as trauma, how trauma might be transmitted across the generations, crime and other social problems as understandable responses to trauma and implications for healing individuals, families and communities.’

In the first video, Joe talks about different types of trauma: Type 1 (acute), Type 2 (chronic) and Type 3 (intergenerational). If you enjoy this video, check out Part 2 and Part 3.

Historical Trauma: Nature of the Problem

Unknown-4 With the launch of our new Sharing Culture initiative and website, here is a description of The Problem:

‘Colonisation and its associated violence and control still exert a marked negative impact today on Australian Aboriginal people. Trauma and an associated unresolved grief have been transmitted across generations in ways that have influenced individuals, families and communities.

Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.

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Sharing Culture: Healing Historical Trauma

Yesterday, I began promoting a new website that I have launched with two colleagues, Professor Marion Kickett and Perth filmmmaker Michael Liu. Here is what we have said on the home page of the website:

‘What is Sharing Culture?
Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse  and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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Sharing Culture: Transcending Historical Trauma

Sharing Culture is a new initiative I am developing with Dr. Marion Kickett, a Noongar Aboriginal leader and Associate Professor at Curtin University, and Perth filmmaker Michael Liu

Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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‘Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia’ by Judy Atkinson

rsz_41sanqzdhyl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx385_sy500_cr00385500_sh20_ou02_Every now and again, I read a book related to the recovery field which helps create a small shift in the way I work. A few months ago, I read a book that has opened my eyes to a problem I knew existed… but had little idea about. A big shift in the way I work is occurring.

Transgenerational, or historical trauma, is the transmission of trauma across generations arising from colonisation and its associated violence and control, seen in Australian Aboriginals and other indigenous populations, e.g. North American Native Indians, Maoris of New Zealand. This historical trauma influences individuals, families and communities.

Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.

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‘Intergenerational Trauma & Healing, Parts 1-3’ by Joe Solanto

Yesterday, I posted a blog from Gabor Maté entitled Our Strange Indifference To Aboriginal Addiction. I highlighted the following about society’s – it’s not just Canada – response to the problems of addiction amongst Aboriginal people.

‘We seem to comfort ourselves with the belief that the endemic drug addiction and alcoholism are unfortunate realities for which we, as a society, bear no responsibility. From both scientific and historical perspectives, such a view is distorted and self-serving.’ Gabor Maté

I’ve heard many non-Aboriginal Australian people say in relation to Aboriginal people: “Why don’t they just get over it?” (Yeh, like non-Aboriginal people just get over diabetes, cancer or rape)

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‘Our Strange Indifference To Aboriginal Addiction’ by Gabor Maté

imagesHere’s an important blog from one of my favourite writers, Gabor Maté.

‘Marlene, a 46-year old native woman, sat in my office last week, slumped on her chair, blinking away her tears. I’d just shared the news that her most recent blood test confirmed she had “seroconverted” to HIV, become infected with the AIDS virus.

Although an injection drug user, Marlene had always been careful to use clean needles. Her route of infection was sexual contact – with the resigned naiveté characteristic of so many aboriginal women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, she had trusted a man, himself a drug addict, who assured her that he was a safe partner.

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Historical Trauma & the Addiction Reaction: Janet King, Part 1

There is a lot to reflect on in this film clip of the first part of Janet King’s presentation. For those of you who have not heard of  historical trauma, which will probably be the majority of you, I include the following:

“Historical trauma is something that goes from generation to generation as opposed to a personal trauma of a shock, or a breakup, or physical illness, or something else that happens in our lives. This historical trauma is very much steeped in a history of people, and a pattern of demoralization, a pattern of disempowerment that is carried out against a people or one group by another.

…the history of the people or our people, whether it’s the Cherokee Trail of Tears (all the tribes have their Trails of Tears, as we know), boarding school experience, or being taken away from parents, or being beaten regularly because that’s what the school or the religious experience for some might have entailed…

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The Role of Historical Trauma in Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions

In the past couple of months, I have become increasingly interested in historical trauma and the impact it has had on the health and well-being of Aboriginal people here in Australia, and in other indigenous groups around the world. I’ll be talking more about it in the coming months.

For now, I want to introduce you to the promotional trailer of the film ‘Sharing Tebwewin’.

“Sharing Tebwewin” (Sharing the Truth) is a 30-minute educational documentary designed to help health workers become more “culturally competent” in their work with First Nations people.

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