‘Wellbriety means to be both sober and well. It means to have come through recovery from chemical dependency and to be a recovered person who is going beyond survival to thriving in his or her life and in the life of the community.
The Well part of Wellbriety means to live the healthy parts of the principles, laws and values of traditional culture. It means to heal from dysfunctional behaviors other than chemical dependency, as well as chemical dependency itself. This includes co dependency, ACOA behavior, domestic or family violence, gambling, and other shortcomings of character.’
The Wellbriety Movement Comes of Age: The Fuifillment of Prophecy by Don Coyhis tells the story of the Wellbriety Movement. I recently read this fascinating book and I can say it is a must-read.
Here is what Bill White, a leading addiction recovery advocate and celebrated historian, had to say in his preface to the book:
‘When individuals, families and communities sustained wounds, revitalized movements rise from the spirit of the people to bring hope, healing and health.
The historical trauma experienced by Native People inflicted deep wounds that bled across generations. That sustained bleeding has left individuals, families and communities physically and spiritually depleted, but not defeated.
There is more to this history than a legacy of addiction, disease and violence. There is the deep and rich tradition of resistance, resilience and recovery. That tradition is alive today in the Native American Wellbriety Movement.
The Wellbriety Movement Comes of Age is the story and growth of this Movement.
It is also the story of the man who has been at the center of this movement...
This Movement is offering simple but profound lessons.
1. The centre of change is the Talking Circle – a place of belonging, trust and safety.
2. Healing movements must engage the head and the heart.
3. Lies must be expunged and truths told if healing is to occur.
4. The individual, family and community are one: hurting one hurts all, healing one heals all. Body, mind and spirit are one; hurting one hurts all, healing one heals all.
5. A great healing has begun.
6. Personal, family and community healing is guided by spiritual laws – the Medicine Wheel, the Cycle of the Seasons, the Laws of Change, the Prophecies.
7. Intergenerational healing must occur within the context of the community that was traumatized; the healing of historical trauma cannot occur without justice and forgiveness.
8. Communities must draw wisdom from the oldest members, hope from their youngest and strength from those in between.
9. Community healing requires sober/spiritual leadership.
10. Healing and health rest on living in harmony with spiritual values, e.g. respect, honesty, integrity, willingness, cooperation, humility, forgiveness, perseverance, patience, service.
11. Traditional ways can and must be integrated into modern life.
12. People who have been part of the problem can become part of the solution.
These lessons are so deeply rooted in Native American culture that one would not expect them striking a vibrant cord in other cultural communities, but that is precisely what has occurred.
The Wellbriety Movement is pointing the way to health and wholeness across great cultural divides and has exerted a profound influence on the larger recovery advocacy movement in the United States.’
The last sentence above is particularly important for all Indigenous people around the world to realise. Healing in Indigenous communities can impact on wider society.