Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Road To Change

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"Out of the Indian approach to life there came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing respect for life, enriching faith in a Supreme Power, and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guide to mundane relations."
Luther Standing Bear
Oglala Sioux

You may be wondering what my last two posts on Residential schools and Native boarding schools have to do with oppression in our Native communities. When the children were taken away it left so much sadness in these communites that rampant alcohol abuse began and from that spousal abuse etc, because the parents no longer had anyone left to guide and to teach according to their cultural values and norms.

When the children returned with no parenting skills and years of sexual, physical, verbal and mental abuse, lack of nurturing and no guidance in their traditional ways, culture or values: the ill effects of their suffering extended for generations through each community and continues to resonate still today. Abuse is a a cycle that continues throughout generations of families until someone takes the step to break that cycle. Many native communites have high rates still of physical and sexual abuse and domestic violence. Also drug abuse and alchohol abuse are rampant and often used to mask the pain of suffering. Suicide is also an unfortuante side effect of many years of pain and suffering in our native communites as well.

How does this relate to our leaders? Well the likely hood of our leadership being caught up in one of these unhealthy cycles due to a family member attending either a Residential School or a Boarding school is fairly high. Therefore we have people in postiions of power in our communities who themselves are not healthy individuals. If our leadership would take the initiative to start the path to healing for themselves, then perhaps this intiative would also extend to individual community members as an example and start the path to an overall healthy community.

Some ways to begin this healing path with or without the leadership on behalf of the community can include such things as: healing circles held within the community, sweat lodges, ceremonies, and use of the medicine wheel as a path to healing also by any other traditional or cultural means that are applicable to a particular Tribal Nation or First Nation.

In my opinion we cannnot move forward until we have healthiness in our communites and this starts with individuals before it can extend itself to entire communites. These efforts like self-determination etc will not succeed and be beneficial the way they should be to us as a nation of people until they are done from a place of healthiness. That is why it is my feeling that we are doing things backwards and that we need to work on ourselves as individuals, communities and then as nations, before we work on the big picture.

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