‘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 4)

3702998I recently wrote three blogs about my other initiative Sharing Culture – which is focused on the healing of Indigenous people – and what we are trying to do [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3]. It is time to continue with another part, which will focus on our activities over the past 18 months.

Progress To Date
The first development was the Sharing Culture website, launched in late-2013. We set out with the aim of developing a small website focusing on historical trauma, healing and culture, primarily using the voices of Indigenous people (which is why you see so many quotes) within an organised framework. We wanted our audience to gain a basic understanding of key issues relating to Indigenous healing.

The information (written and film) I provided was obtained from web pages, books, science papers and personal communications. A considerable amount of research, reading and watching of films was involved in bringing this content together. In addition to this content, I included Stories, both of individuals (e.g. Professor Judy Atkinson) and initiatives (e.g. the Native American Wellbriety Movement).

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Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Parts 2 and 3)

42115582. Working towards solutions with Sharing Culture
We developed Sharing Culture as a way to help tackle historical trauma (and its consequences) and facilitate Indigenous healing.

Sharing Culture is a grassroots initiative based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness. We use a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that celebrates success and fosters positivity, acceptance and cultural pride.

We recognise that self-determinism is a central foundation of healing – solutions must come from Indigenous communities. At the same time, non-Indigenous people can contribute to this healing process in a variety of ways.

One major way that Sharing Culture will facilitate this healing process is to generate high quality educational content and Stories about Indigenous healing and the healing of trauma, and distribute it in the most effective manner to as wide an audience as possible.

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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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Understanding Indigenous Wellbeing

TristanSchultzArtwork“Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, scial and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.”

Indigenous Heath and Wellbeing
To appreciate the many ways that society can facilitate the healing of Indigenous people, we must understand the Indigenous view of health and wellbeing. It is different to that of western culture.

Indigenous people have a holistic view of health and wellbeing that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental. It does not just focus on the individual, but also on the health and wellbeing of the community.

This view, which has been in existence for tens of thousands of years, is far richer than the western concept of mental health, which comes from an illness or clinical perspective.

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Dreambuilding in Napranum

Napranum-Aboriginal-Community-4-450x337Some of you will know that I am also running the Sharing Culture initiative. Sharing Culture aims to help Indigenous people heal from historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, self-harm and suicide.

Here is a blog I put up today which will describe one of my projects:

‘”The Elders taught us that to treat the sick trees you must treat the whole forest – you must create a healing forest. If not, the trees will just keep getting sick again… It means that we must actively heal the community and its institutions at the same time an individual works on his or her own healing from alcohol or drugs or other unwell behaviors.” Don Coyhis, Native American Leader & Founder of the Wellbriety Movement

Society has the knowledge to facilitate Indigenous healing. This knowledge comes from individuals who have overcome great adversity and undergone a healing process, as well as from successful Indigenous healing initiatives. Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by current systems of care.

Society must also pay attention to, and implement, findings from scientific research that demonstrate key principles that underlie healing. For example, research has shown that self-determination is the foundation of healing and recovery from adversities like trauma, mental health problems and addiction.

Sadly, however, governments and systems of care still act in a paternalistic and controlling manner towards Indigenous people. They see themselves as the agents of change for Indigenous people, even though evidence shows that this approach does not work. It further disempowers people.

As a result of these problems, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should. This is a human rights issue that needs addressing urgently.

Sharing Culture involves the development of an educational resource that shows how healing occurs at an individual, family and community level. As part of this initiative, we are collaborating with highly respected people who have developed key Indigenous healing initiatives. We intend to create high quality content about these initiatives that will be disseminated to a wide audience via a multi-platform approach, i.e. internet, documentary film, iBooks, newspapers, etc.

We aim to inspire and educate our audience, create advocacy campaigns, and help the people we collaborate with develop their projects further (many receive minimal funding). We need to learn from, and facilitate the work of, people with successful healing initiatives.

Today, I would like to announce the first of our Healing Journey collaborative projects. This project involves the development of an easy-to-access, internet-based educational and advocacy resource based on lived experience that will inspire and educate people about community healing.

This resource will focus on the remarkable transformation – at an economic, social and spiritual level – that has been occurring in the Cape York Indigenous community of Napranum, a transformation catalysed by Annalise Jennings of Dynamic Exchange.

Dreambuilding in Napranum will comprise film, audio, text and animation that highlights: (1) healing stories and principles; (2) the evidence for transformation; (3) community events and culture; (4) personal reflections on what facilitates change, and (5) how to address practical issues when facilitating community change. We will also link to other internet-based content that enhances understanding of community healing.

Dreambuilding in Napranum will show what can be achieved when Indigenous people are empowered, connected and given the opportunity for self-determination, key elements underlying healing.

Our audience will gain important insights into how Indigenous people overcome great adversity. We will celebrate what Napranum has achieved and ensure that their successes are shared with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people around the world.

We are in the very early stages of this project. Annalise and I have been talking for some time about linking up. I recently uploaded ten pages of content about Annalise’s work in Napranum using content that is already available online.

Last week, Annalise visited Napranum and the community agreed to participate in the project. I am planning the filming that Mike and I will do in Napranum on the basis of my interviews with Annalise. However, this project is dependent on us raising funding, so I have a busy period ahead.

Here are two testimonials for the project:

“Napranum people have always known where they wanted to go. They have always had great vision and direction. What is different about what is happening now, is someone is willing to walk alongside them to help make their dreams happen. It is a story that needs to be told. It is a story that needs to be repeated in other places, by other people. A story of people doing things together. It was in Napranum many years ago, a woman said: ‘Sometimes, when we look at the problems, they seem like a large mountain. But we can move that mountain, one rock at a time.’ Napranum and Tjunundi people of old Mapoon can teach us many things.” Professor Judy Atkinson & Dr Carlie Atkinson

“Every now and then something happens that is so indisputable and powerful that its impact and implications cannot be ignored. The transformation of Napranum is one of those somethings. Communicating the Napranum story should be an urgent priority so that many people, at all levels of decision making, can understand its message and become part of the healing solution.” Professor Tim Carey

You can find out more about Annalise’s work with Napranum here. We’ll both be blogging about this project as time moves on.

20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 2

P4061087-220x1646. The Healing Ritual of Storytelling
Storytelling is a healing ritual amongst Indigenous people.

In a culturally safe environment (e.g. healing circle), Indigenous people can share experiences by telling their Story (which is often a trauma Story), help each other come to terms with the emotional pain caused by what has happened to them in their past, and make sense of their personal story in relationship to the collective, communal Story.

7. Pride in Surviving Colonisation
Learning history from an Indigenous perspective, illustrating how conditions for social and psychological discontent have developed, helps Indigenous people understand why they have problems.

It also shows them that they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better. It helps them deal with shame and blame, factors that impact negatively on social and emotional wellbeing.

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20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 1

2007_0118walpole01151-220x164Some of you will know I also run the Sharing Culture website, which focuses on Indigenous healing. Today, I thought I would upload the same blog onto both websites. My action reflects the importance I attach to this area.

Society has the knowledge to facilitate Indigenous healing. This knowledge comes from individuals who have overcome great adversity and undergone a healing process (the lived solution); successful Indigenous healing initiatives, and scientific research demonstrating key principles underlying healing.

Sadly, however, this knowledge is neither disseminated well, nor implemented enough by government and health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems. As a result, society is not helping Indigenous people improve their health and wellbeing to the level it should.

In this and forthcoming blogs, I shall briefly describe 20 ways to facilitate Indigenous healing. Here are the first five.

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Merry Xmas… and some words of Native American wisdom

IMG_0142I’m going to take some time off, so this is my last blog until the New Year. I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and relaxing Christmas break and all the best for 2015.

I hope you’ve found this website of some value. If you haven’t already done so, you might like to visit my other website, Sharing Culture, which is a part of an initiative focused on Indigenous healing I have developed with filmmaker Michael Liu.

I’d like to end this year with some pearls of wisdom written by Don Coyhis on the basis of what he was told be a Native American Elder in New Mexico:

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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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Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing

imagesIndigenous people have a holistic view of health that incorporates the physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, social and environmental.

It includes healing oneself and relationships with others, such as family and community members. It recognises the importance of connecting to land, culture, spirituality and history, as well as the importance of bonds of reciprocal affection, responsibility and caring.

The Indigenous view of health people also recognises the importance of healing the community, rather than just focusing on the individual.

Indigenous people focus on social and emotional wellbeing, rather than on mental health. They view social and emotional wellbeing problems arising from a broad range of circumstances – unresolved grief and loss, trauma and abuse, domestic violence, removal from family, substance misuse, family breakdown, cultural dislocation, loss of land, racism and discrimination, and social disadvantage.

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Balunu Foundation Cultural Healing Program

I love the look of this healing programme in northern Australia.

‘The Balunu Foundation Cultural Healing program delivers cultural healing programs to many at risk youth. The healing retreat and program are located in Darwin, NT and youth have attended the program from all over Australia.

Although the program was established to help address the many challenges faced by Indigenous youth, it has had as great an impact with non-Indigenous youth who have attended the program.

Balunu adopts a holistic and culturally appropriate approach to strengthening the youth with a major focus on suicide prevention, substance abuse, emotional, mental and physical trauma, intergenerational trauma, family disruption, homelessness, crime and education.

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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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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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Promoting community led solutions to indigenous youth suicide

I have just received the email below. Last week, I attended an aboriginal healing retreat and had spiritual experiences that confirmed my commitment to helping the Indigenous people of Australia tackle addiction and mental health problems and other consequences of historical trauma.

This email reminds me of the scale of the problem. The video touched my inner soul. I am so happy I have made this commitment. I know the journey ahead is a long one.

Please support this cause, first by sending this blog and the website link out to as many people as possible. Thank you.

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