Ivan Star Comes Out: Unresolved trauma affects Lakota way of life

Ivan F. Star Comes Out

Unresolved trauma contributes to disharmony
By Ivan F. Star Comes Out
Native Sun News Today Columnist

As a life-long resident on the Pine Ridge, I am continually hearing livid remarks regarding the less-than-quality life here. Many among a significant portion of the population seem to blame federal and “tribal” governments as the primary causes of our current living conditions. This activity, as popular as it is, is really impractical and obviously has not improved life for us.

A good portion of us have experienced trauma at some point in our lives, either as children or as adults, and have been unable to resolve it. Thus society is tainted by the bad effects of unresolved trauma. We cannot change what happened but we can alter the resulting comorbid (addictions, mood/personality disorders) behavior by taking the time to address it with trained professionals.

Yes, our ancestors encountered some mind-boggling atrocities such as the assimilative boarding school era (1860-present) and the senseless 1890 massacre at Cankpe Taopi Wakpala (Wounded Knee Creek). The enervating effects of such historic events continue to plague the descendants. Yes, every one of those students and slain ancestors has relatives walking the earth today.

For that reason alone, we cannot ignore our factual and traumatic history. Psychological clinicians have recently determined that the only way to recover from trauma is through the trauma itself. Our ancestors understood this and developed a method of recovery (inikagapi – they purify) and used it for centuries until their way of life was obliterated.

They knew that facing trauma would not change what happened but allowed one to begin a process of closure. This involves a sincere and unconstrained expression of grief like my elders did. It was as if they were unabashedly pouring out every ounce of remorse and sadness. I don’t see this anymore as people remain stoical about their loss (s) allowing the sadness to fester into weakening pessimism.

We must learn to express our natural emotions again. Perhaps then we can stop pointing fingers and actually experience contentment again. Collectively, we have blamed for so long that the idea of getting ourselves out of this mess is not in the public mindset anymore. I know of individuals who have spent their entire lives bitterly condemning government.

Many seem to be waiting for others to fix things for us. Having realized this is not going to happen, I faced and learned to cope with my devastating alcoholism and PTSD symptoms. It did not change what happened but it allowed me to begin living as I was intended to live. Drug addiction, suicide, poverty, single parenthood, and child/elder abuse, and poverty are all symptoms of unresolved trauma.

Adding to the situation, our “tribal” government has been and is controlled by a handful of self-serving politicians who have cleverly exploited “tribal” resources for their own families, relatives, and their friends. I am not blaming but it is an ongoing fact in the midst of dismal poverty and misery. Consequently, we have what I call a preoccupation with excessive, enervating malcontent.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Unresolved trauma contributes to disharmony

(Ivan F. Star Comes Out can be reached at PO Box 147, Oglala, SD 57764; 605-867-2448 or via email at mato_nasula2@outlook.com)

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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