Who were the people who wore these clothes? What stories would they have to tell us? What challenges did they face, and what happened to them, their children and their grandchildren? So much of our Native history is filled with sadness: The Long Walk, the Trail of Tears, the boarding schools, relocation, epidemics, and wars. Generation upon generation experienced grief of loss, loss of culture, of family, the trauma of war, and the devasting effects of boarding school life. What do the photographs in the attic boxes tell us about the lives of our ancestors? Do they echo the emptiness of the clothing hanging in the museum?
Healing the Hurts– Empowering Families is about reclaiming our culture and gathering strength from the ancestors within us. It is about mending hearts broken by families disrupted by alcohol, substance abuse, and domestic violence. It is about reclaiming ourselves, our culture and our families. It is about finding the core of what it means to be family; and how to replace the dysfunctional survival skills with healthy, cultural approaches to relationships and parenting.
Recovery is about changing consciousness; lifting the fog. It is about changing the way we think and the way we see ourselves. In families where addictive behaviors overshadow all else, non-using individuals create survival responses: Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust; Don’t Feel. Changing these experiences, feelings, and fears takes a special effort. The anger, guilt, fear and shame permeates what should be a place of safety–the family.
We hope that the conference makes it clear that the root cause of this family disruption is the intergenerational trauma and legacy of the boarding schools. And, we hope that the key notes, break out sessions, and resources will rasie consiousness to employ the tools and mind set to take a stand for change in their own families and communities. The goal is to get back to how we should have been raised!