"Learning history from an Indigenous perspective, illustrating how conditions for social and psychological discontent have developed, helps Indigenous people understand why they have problems. It also shows them that they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better..."
Understanding Historical Trauma
I sometimes hear derogatory comments from non-Indigenous people about their Indigenous fellow citizens. They may complain about someone’s excessive drinking, mental health problems, or even their poverty. When the issue of what has happened in the past is raised I sometimes hear the comment, “That’s in the past. Why can’t they get over it?”
Few people (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) know about historical trauma and its impact on Indigenous people. How can a health care person treat someone if they don’t really know what is wrong with them?
Schools in Australia still teach primarily a non-Indigenous view of Australian history. Surely, history should be taught from both viewpoints. Shouldn’t our children and youth learn the factors of the past that impact negatively on people’s health and wellbeing? Wouldn’t such an understanding reduce the prejudice and racism that exists in Australian society?
The film clips below provide insights into the impact of historical trauma.
Dr. Solanto discusses what trauma is, how the experiences of colonization "qualify" as trauma, how trauma might be transmitted across the generations, crime and other social problems as understandable responses to trauma and implications for healing individuals, families and communities. (This talk continues in Part 2)
Pride in Surviving Colonisation
Learning history from an Indigenous perspective, illustrating how conditions for social and psychological discontent have developed, helps Indigenous people understand why they have problems. It also shows them that they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better. It helps them deal with shame and blame, factors that impact negatively on social and emotional wellbeing.
History from an Indigenous perspective helps Indigenous people have pride in their people and in their culture. Would other civilisations have survived such devastating trauma and grief over such a long period in the same circumstances?
Indigenous people can either be victims of their past or use the pain of the past to help fuel a new future. This point is made in the beautiful film below.
WE SHALL REMAIN was created to address the effects of historical trauma in our tribal communities. Many times, these untended wounds are at the core of much of the self-inflicted pain experienced in Native America. Much like fire, this pain can either be devastatingly destructive or wisely harnessed to become fuel that helps us to rise up and move forward in life with joy, purpose and dignity.
> Facilitating Healing, Part 4