Resilience has become a bit of a buzzword in Native Country. A quick google search of “Indigenous resilience” will show roughly 56 million links associated with this phrase. But what is resilience?
Resilience is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, and other challenges. It is something that exists in the individual, our cultures, our families, and our communities.
Resiliency is a natural part of being Indigenous that has been passed down many generations. For as long as we have known, Indigenous peoples have been nurturing our relationships with the land to create better methods of survival. From these relationships, we have been able to create new technologies, farm and hunt better, create traditions, and celebrate what the land and Creator provide to us. This ability to learn and quickly adjust the ways we approach difficult situations is resilience.
A large part of resilience is having the social support we need. Our large family/kin relationships, our ceremonies, our songs, our dances, our shared experiences across Native Country, our pride in being Indigenous, and our humor are all things that help us through challenging times.
While many Indigenous people struggle today, the mere fact that we are building our mental resilience, working to heal from the centuries of inherited trauma, and thriving in the face of many adversities shows the resiliency we have.
By acknowledging our resiliency we recognize our strengths as Indigenous people. Resiliency asks us “what happened to you and how did you get through it?” rather than “what did you do to deserve this?” Viewing our inherited and/or personal traumas through this lens allows us to recognize that we did not ask for these traumas. In reality, they were forced upon us without consent, but we survived and thrived thanks to the generations that came before us. With resiliency, we are better able to heal and continue to move ourselves, our traditions, and our people forward.
To learn more about resiliency and growing resiliency in yourself and your community, check out these resources:
- Northern Arizona University – Center for American Indian Resilience
- Building Resilient Communities – Nick Tilsen
- Build Your Mental Resilience
- Healing from Trauma
- What We Can Learn About Resilience from Indigenous Leaders
- As Indigenous People, We Are Resilient
- Reclaim Your Power IG
Originally from Oklahoma, Summer Lewis is a Muscogee and Seminole woman who works in Tribal public health. Summer is an MPH student at the University of California-Berkeley who will graduate in 2023. She enjoys baking, beading, and being outdoors.