Historical Trauma – Steps in Healing

Photo Credit: RL Potograpiya

Many Native teens still carry historical trauma with them today. How many of us know other young people who drink or use drugs? How many of us know someone who is abusive because someone in their life abuses them? How many of us have not felt good about ourselves when we hear people say a racist comment or stereotype? The challenge is learning how to heal from this historical trauma. Generally experts suggest these steps:

Get educated. Talk to your elders about your tribe’s history, go to your tribal website, and read about the history of Native people. Click here to learn more.

Think about how your ancestors’ trauma experiences have affected your own life. Consider how the experiences of your ancestors and your tribe’s history have impacted your family members’ and your own life.

Cope with your own pain in some positive way. Sometimes when Native people learn more about the past and really consider some of things that happened to their people, a lot of anger, sadness, and other emotions come up. Some people find it useful to journal about their feelings, write music, talk to friends, or make art. Talk to a trusted adult-like a teacher, counselor, or family member- if you are experiencing some emotions you are having difficulty dealing with.

Grow your community. Knowledge is power and now that you understand more about your people’s history and you have thought about how historical trauma has impacted you and your community, try to think of ways you can contribute to strengthening and growing your community. What positive contributions can you and your friends make? How can you help stop bullying at your school or among your friends? Is there any way you can help teens in your tribe avoid drugs and alcohol?

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