Historical Trauma - Roots and Belonging on Native American Land
Lab Cycle Oct 2020 - July 2021 Report
Patrick Dougherty & Eva Giedt
Cheryl Sarno, David Sherman, Katherine Poco-Enders, Jane Arzt
The lab was framed from the premise that we stand upon land which was inhabited and stewarded by Indigenous people. We also stand upon a violent history of colonization and genocide of Indigenous people. The intention was to:
- deepen awareness of how unprocessed collective trauma is carried in our bodies and impacts our sense of rootedness and belonging;
- gain a greater capacity to relate to and host discomfort from the price Indigenous people have paid and continue to pay.
The lab included an outside team member (Jim Bear) who is part Mohican and a minister and storyteller.
We explored the following questions:
- What constitutes the historical background of colonization and genocide of Native American peoples manifest as collective trauma today?
- How does the unprocessed trauma of colonization and genocide of Native people influence the construction of identity and the process of ‘othering’ of who belongs here and who doesn’t?
- How does the trauma of colonization and genocide influence the development of cultural architecture governing current relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people?
- How does our use of language reflect and reinforce the consequences of this collective trauma?
- How does this trauma show itself in times of crisis (e.g. Covid-19, land management, climate emergencies)?
- Can we collectively create a coherent ‘we-space’ and a process of witnessing that leads to an integration and eventual healing of this trauma?
Stages of our process as a group:
1. Synchronising & Resourcing
2. Meeting the Collective Trauma Landscape
3. Exploring Individual & Collective Conditioning
4. Listening to Ancestral Roots & Voices from the Field
5. Integrating & Restoring
6. Transforming & Meta-learning
Moments of Challenge
- The start seemed fast, and the team did not find the time to create coherence. Hence the pace at the beginning seemed rushed and there was not enough spaciousness.
- We started with a Trainee who had trauma activation in this topic and was unable to hold space. This was a difficult start as we were finding our way.
- There was dissonance for some around the role of the Trainees and the hierarchy model outlined by Thomas Huebl. This needs to be clarified prior to starting and Trainees agree to it.
- We had a content expert with no prior exposure to the teachings and he was unwilling to attend the calls.
- Co-facilitator dynamics were impacting the team and the process. A supervision session was obtained and over time the dynamics improved.
- The model of history and timeline was too early in the process and more attention to hearing and getting to know the participants would have been better earlier.
MOMENTS OF GRACE
- Working with ancestors and connection with the land (especially land before the trauma) created many moments of grace.
- Breakouts in groups of 5 per group with a team member strengthened the container.
- After a difficult meeting with the content expert,the team met and re-designed the next meeting with more safety and listening and therefore more coherence.
- The inclusion of an expressive arts session deepened the process and great beauty emerged.
- The last meeting had many moments of grace including a movement in the content expert opening his heart to the “white” folks.
- The tragedy of the news of many native childrens’ remains found at a school site was included and deeply touched many of us.
- An Hawaiian indigenous woman who has much experience as an activist felt more related.
- A descendent of Polish Holocaust victims had an ancestral healing.
- It is important to choose a team carefully. For instance, in the selection of Trainees, and having content experts who are more willing to learn the TH culture.
- Important for co-facilitators to know each other more before starting, to determine the fit, and to create coherence.
- Beginning realization of the importance of knowing ourselves as the land and not just on the land for the future of Collective Trauma healing.
- Realizations on presencing Ancestors
- The how-to of CTIP coming together more
- Multi-dimensional weaving as important role of the co-facilitators
- Accepting what is as needing to happen
- Wondering about the people who left
- Wondering about the correct time space between Labs
- Sense of team care needed between Labs with precise presencing as our nervous systems reorganize.