Indigenous scholars have called for theoretical and methodological research approaches that center on Indigenous knowledge, culture, and history. As such, I adopt a historical trauma theoretical lens in this presentation to explore health issues in Native and Indigenous communities in which the continued impacts of colonial violence is central. In addition, by highlighting the ongoing realities of historical trauma that impact contemporary health issues among Indigenous peoples, the projects described here focus instead on the creative and resilient resources already embedded in Indigenous communities and other marginalized groups in the face of these historical traumas. By engaging multiple levels of analysis, these projects reorient typical health outcome approaches away from a focus on individuals, communities, and/or cultural groups that are largely acontextual and ahistorical, and towards a more historically anchored approach to traumatic events such as massacres, boarding schools, and compounded socio-structural inequalities in the health of Native and Indigenous communities.

Using the Historical Trauma Framework, this talk will discuss three projects focused on Indigenous communities’ health. In these projects, consistent with our approach, we partner with community advisors to design aims and questions, methodologies, and analytic approaches. We focus attention on Indigenous story-telling, and on how learned historical and cultural knowledge creates pathways for healing trauma for individuals across the lifespan. Ethics of right relation to self, with community and the planet are also discussed as foundational to current patterns of trauma and healing. Specific examples from the “Our Stories, Our Medicine Archive” Project will illustrate and explain how and why Indigenous practices such as circle, ceremony, and four seasons ethnography are at the center of culturally and historically informed efforts to heal trauma, and are missed in many mainstream research approaches.

Ramona Beltrán, PhD

University of Denver

Convening Faculty

Ramona Beltrán, MSW, PhD is a Xicana of Yaqui and Mexica descent and dancer/activist/scholar. As an Associate Professor at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work, her scholarship … MORE


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