SHIFT – Intergenerational Trauma

I’ve written about Seeding Sovereignty’ fascinating biweekly online interviews (https://jeffkisling.com/?s=shift+narrative).

I was especially looking forward to yesterday’s episode about intergenerational trauma which I found extremely informative. “Looking forward to” might not be quite right. I knew this would be a painful discussion. My comments are from the perspective of a White 68 year old Quaker male. Some of the discussion below is specific to White people.

I don’t remember having heard about intergenerational trauma until I began, several years ago, to learn about the Native cultures and the history of how they greatly suffered in so many ways. One of those things you don’t know that you don’t know. Now that I have started to learn about intergenerational trauma, I realize White people cannot begin to understand American Indians until we learn about the trauma that our ancestors were involved with. In part to understand the history of White settler colonization, but also to begin to learn that trauma has been passed to Indigenous peoples today. Who are experiencing that trauma right now.

Another significant trauma is the present, ongoing epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW).

One of the most significant intergenerational traumas relates to the forced assimilation at the Indian Boarding Schools. A number of those residential schools were run by Quakers. Over 100,000 native children were forced to attend those schools, where significant traumas occurred. Attempts were made to strip their culture from them, and force them to try to adopt a foreign culture. There was also significant physical and sexual abuse. Many children died. Those that returned to their native homes had trouble re-entering their culture.

One thing I highlighted below is not enough attention is paid to spirituality. I think that was said in relation to native people struggling to deal with the trauma. And it has always been my contention that not enough attention is paid to spirituality in White culture. Spirituality has an important role to play, to help us all heal from these traumas.

The following is was especially insightful for me (White person). Christine had been talking about her work, and that of other Indigenous people, being driven by their love of their relatives. Then she said what follows:

Christine—talking different religious groups/Quakers/other white people
Tell them to go to their White spaces.
Wouldn’t it be great if White people did the work because they love THEIR relatives? Don’t need to fix natives, instead fix White.  White folks don’t need to be in native spaces. Instead in White spaces.
 I need to go to White communities.  Ask them if they need OUR help in dealing with White supremacists affecting them (White people)
So many White people clueless about their sense of entitlement and don’t question why they have their privileges.

White people doing the work of decolonizing White people is what we (White) people should be doing. As said below, “so many White people are clueless about their sense of entitlement and don’t question why they have their privileges.”

Following is the story of the Two Row Wampum Belt.


The Guswenta: Two Row Wampum Belt is a Symbol of Sovereignty

ONEIDA, Oneida Indian Nation

This belt symbolizes the agreement and conditions under which the Haudenosaunee welcomed the newcomers to this land.
“You say that you are our father and I am your son.”
We say, ‘We will not be like Father and Son, but like Brothers’.”
This wampum belt confirms our words. These two rows will symbolize two paths or two vessels, traveling down the same river together.
One, a birch bark canoe, will be for the Indian People, their laws, their customs and their ways.
We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat.
Neither of us will make compulsory laws or interfere in the internal affairs of the other.
Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel.

From a 1614 agreement between the Haudenosaunee and representatives of the Dutch government, declaring peaceful coexistence
The agreement has been kept by the Haudenosaunee to this date

ONEIDA, Oneida Indian Nation


Creestah Jackson was the guest in the latest episode of Seeding Sovereignty’s SHIFT the Narrative. She was interviewed by Christine Nobiss and S.A. Lawrence-Welch.

We are interviewing Creestah Jackson, Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma and professional counselor, about the effects of intergenerational trauma, what our experiences have been working on the frontlines and how we can heal. We will also discuss how folx are navigating this work during the present global pandemic, the climate crisis and heightened emotions through the many uprisings happening all over the country. Does political fatigue make you want to vote or does it make you want to disconnect?

Seeding Sovereignty

https://www.facebook.com/SeedingSovereignty

Join us as we interview Creestah Jackson about the effects of intergenerational trauma, what our experiences have been working on the frontlines and how we can heal. We will also discuss how folx are navigating this work during the present global pandemic, the climate crisis and heightened emotions through the many uprisings happening all over the country. Does political fatigue make you want to vote or does it make you want to disconnect?

Creestah Jackson: Licensed counselor.  Abuse. People on front lines.  Burn out. Fatigue.

Involved in mental health because so many in my community need help but resources not available.
Families in crisis, re-unify with their children.  To keep government out of situation.
New realm of trauma from today’s situations?
Any civil rights movement is going to create some trauma.
COVID-19, protect water, climate change.  In addition, our families. State sanctioned violence seen over and over.
Being Black or Indigenous is like living in a constant state of stress.
People should not have to insist they have a right to live on top of all that.
Trauma jumping through generations.
Intergenerational traumas.  How people traumatized have issues with authority and other stresses.
Everybody is struggling.  Elders might not have modeled the best way to cope.
Younger people get disheartened because elders say calm down.  Worried depressed youth.

Grandparents went to boarding school.
Frontlines–places where conflict occurs. Where people might be carrying out direct action, protest, events.
July 4th.  100 White supremacists triggered  Patriotism is culture for therm.
Different types of protesting for Black and Indigenous peoples on Front Lines. Not institutional.
Spirituality
Trauma
EMDR- processing trauma memories that recur but not dealt with.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro from 1988 in which the person being treated is asked to recall distressing images; the therapist then directs the patient in one type of bilateral sensory input, such as side-to-side eye movements or hand tapping. According to the 2013 World Health Organization practice guideline: “This therapy is based on the idea that negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours are the result of unprocessed memories. The treatment involves standardized procedures that include focusing simultaneously on spontaneous associations of traumatic images, thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations and bilateral stimulation that is most commonly in the form of repeated eye movements.”

EMDR is included in several evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, Wikipedia

Indigenous communities experience PTSD at massive level.  Group of elders split people into groups for ceremony, talking, spiritual aspect, sitting in community together.
Spirituality- often not paid enough attention to.
More cultural sensitivity in therapy work. Therapists and medical professionals from the same culture as those who are being treated.  Train people in the community.
Need to create an online Native American counselor database.
Intergenerational trauma
Trauma that has taken place before the current generations
Epigenetics, trauma passed through genetics
Example: child taken from people, residential school, then returned
Maladapted responses   alcohol/drug

What my trauma experience was I then present in relationships to my children.

So much going on today,
COVID, race, wars, uprisings, social issues.
Climate so huge.  Ongoing environmental chaos, not even part of conversation now.
Will people be too politically fatigued that they won’t vote?
People struggling to just survive.  May be too fatigued to pay attention to politics or vote.
Stress response cycle—can’t think about the future.  No energy.
Disheartening, fatigued.
Voting and current political institutions are the very systems we need to change.

CLIMATE
When you know too much.  A divide between those who really understand current system. Struggle with others in our community that don’t have that understanding. 
So busy just surviving. 

There are children living in cages.  How is that not the most important thing we must all be working on?

The powers that be don’t care about people who are not like them.
Xenophobia.

Idea of animality?
System likes to keep us distracted so don’t pay attention to them (system)

Christine—talking different religious groups/Quakers/other white people
Tell them to go to their White spaces.
Wouldn’t it be great if White people did the work because they love THEIR relatives? Don’t need to fix natives, instead fix White.  White folks don’t need to be in native spaces. Instead in White spaces.
 Christine—I need to go to White communities.  Ask them if they need OUR help in dealing with White supremacists affecting them (White people)
So many White people clueless about their sense of entitlement and don’t question why they have their privileges.

Native activists have learned about White privilege and how to deal with issues.
Normalizing conversation, normalizing dialog.  Come up with some solutions.
Not just about us, also future generations.  Which will be White and Native.

Grounding
stress/response

Take time to deal with our stress and anxiety. Especially when we are on the frontlines.
Community care as well as individual care.
Brain has difficult time between actual danger versus perceived danger,
Pay attention to our body when we realize we are getting stressed out.

How respond to stressful situation?

I was scared of the wind for a few years.  Had many dreams about tornados (don’t have in Winnipeg)
Hide in closet.
As we grow up, society says many things not appropriated.  So it gets bottled up.
Have to convince ourselves we are safe. 
Exercise
Breathing techniques for stress
Affection – hug from someone you trust
Social interaction tells brain safe at moment
CREATIVITY – makes you feel safe.
Big old cry.  Catharsis.
When someone is crying, just let them cry.  Allow space for that.
Practice being able to give people the space they need.
Might feel some immediate relief.  But much more needs to be done.
Book  Burnout  for women.

What is best way for men to be supportive of women who are or have experienced gender-based trauma?
Take time to sit down together.  What can I do for you when you are experiencing the trauma?  Do you want advice or just listen?  Before things escalate, have these conversations.
We ALL know we are not doing it right.  I’m not eating right, not running, etc .(Need to decolonize what we eat, what exercise we do).

Running – most Indigenous thing we can do.  Or other form of exercise. Being present in the moment is what we are supposed to be doing anyway.

How use this to get people out to vote?
If good candidate not running for office, look for those not part of the 2 party system. Instead someone who will help create a government FOR the people.

Voting is something within OUR control. 
Also when politicians see the demographics of who voted, shows who they should pay more attention to.


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