Poem: At Risk Children

In the midst of an economic depression,
Not recession,
Because this has gone on too long,
Depression weighs heavy,
On the burden of my shoulders,
I try to shine my light,
But one challenge after the other,
Oppression and the layers,
Are a thin glaze that is put over me,
By those who strive to maintain,
A sexist culture,
A racist culture,
A pain in my belly all day culture,
I've survived,
And the tribal rhythms from all my roots,
Indigenous European roots,
The Crusades,
And land being divided up and sold,
And controlled,
And womyn's bodies being raped,
Womyn's leadership wiped out,
For the sake of Christianity,
Manifest destiny,
An ultimate defeat for all of us,
Matriarchal societies dismantled,
And the Earth became distant,
And my spirit became disoriented,
My brother recently relapsed,
And after six years of sobriety,
It starts again,
All that has gone against,
Is against us,
Attempts from all angles to defeat us,
Who abandon us,
And label us "at-risk" children,
Elementary school counseling,
I've got cigarette butts in my pocket,
Excessive wealth is all around me,
But the lack of compassion and love from the community is excessive,
When it should be the opposite,
The Native community distant,
And the in-fighting,
And the white community ignoring us,
And other communities of color not giving a damn about Native people,
Telling us that their problems are worse,
I can't fight,
I can't fight,
The alcohol follows me,
Although I walked the Red Road to Wellbriety,
I've seen the look,
The disorientation of the ancestors in my face,
In my Mother's face,
In my Father's face,
In my face,
The ancestors souls disjointed,
So our souls are disjointed,
And I am ready to face my wounds,
But I ran away,
And I run away,
I am only human,
Down here on this Earthly plane,
Tears run down my face,
Thinking of oppression,
That attempts to destroy the survival of Native people,
Tears run down my face,
And my heart still aches,

Walking the Red Road to Wellbriety

As a mixed blood Native American woman who is an adult child of alcoholics (ACOA) I am committed to walking the red road to wellbriety. As someone who has been affected by the negative toxicity of what alcohol can do to the family circle I am committed to being alcohol free for life. Alcohol and alcoholism has negatively affected many Native people and communities. Alcohol has been used to numb the heavy weight of historical, generational and intergenerational trauma. This trauma includes the soul wounding effects of annihilation, genocide, cultural assimilation, cultural loss, discrimination, racism, sexism, abuse, violence and oppression. Historical, generational and intergenerational trauma can be described as traumas across one's lifetime in addition to traumas across the generations. Individuals and families have internalized the massive group trauma and the effects of genocide. As Native people we are survivors of genocide. This is why I am glad to be a part of the wellbriety movement in the Native community.

What does walking the red road to wellbriety mean? To me it means to be committed to living an alcohol free life in which I can walk the red road of balance, harmony, wholeness and healing. I can be whole in my body, mind and spirit because I am alcohol free. Wellbriety is also defined as someone who is sober, recovering and living a life in which they are thriving and not just surviving. Specifically in the Native American community to walk the red road of wellbriety means to embrace cultural traditions, values and beliefs. Because of genocide and assimilation the majority culture forced Native peoples to forget about our cultural traditions, values and beliefs. Walking the red road to wellbriety is a path of healing and revitalization of the culture. It means standing strong in your identity as a Native person. It means being proud of your cultural traditions, values and beliefs.

As I walk the red road of wellbriety I find that I am walking a path of healing from generational and historical trauma. I can heal from dysfunctional family patterns that I learned because I was a part of the alcoholic family system. I can heal from internalizing anger, rage, self hate and psychological stress that was passed down from historical trauma in my family. I can heal the wounding and pain that scarred my soul from loss of identity. I can heal from the fear of emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse. My family and I can be empowered in our identity as a Native family. For each family member the path of healing is different. No path is the same as some move quicker and some move slower in their healing process. I have been committed to breaking down my fears, learning to be gentle with myself and opening myself up to love from my family.

In the past I have had pride about getting help when I have needed it. I was in denial of my pain and wounding. There is also another factor in getting help because there are limited resources for Native people. Often services are not culturally appropriate meaning many Native people have been treated the White way. Also historically Native people have had a huge distrust of medical professionals and counselors. My Grandfather did not use services when he was diagnosed with diabetes and I assume it was because of distrust of medical professionals. I have observed this historical wounding in my Father as well. He has had a huge distrust of medical professionals in the majority culture. I have boldly taken steps in which generations past have been so debilitated in doing so. I have taken steps forward and have had to steps backward to face trauma and soul wounds. Sometimes I have had to sit in the pain and sorrow of intergenerational and historical wounding. In sitting in this pain I was able to feel it instead of run away from it. In feeling it I was able to release the pain, understand the pain and begin to transcend the trauma. To heal and learn to love ourselves and each other is brave in a culture that still attacks Native people.
Healing is a process. I make sure to live in the present moment and take one day at a time. I am worthy, I am allowed to be me and I have every right to be able to thrive in this world. I am authentically committed to my life path, walking the red road to wellbriety and healing. My family and I can move from a place of integenerational trauma to intergenerational healing. The future generations will be able to stand stronger and bring more healing to the family circle and our communities.

Resources and Information
A Community-Based Treatment for Native American Historical Trauma: Prospects for Evidence-Based Practice (pdf file)

From Intergenerational Trauma to Intergenerational Healing (pdf file)

Historical Trauma
Historical Trauma pamphlet (pdf file) for the Eyaa-keen Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Native American Indian General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous

More than 4,000 expected for Indians in Sobriety Campout

‘Tradition is Prevention; Culture is Treatment’

Wellbriety for Prisons

White Bison - Center for the Wellbriety Movement
White Bison Online Store

Upcoming Events in Michigan

Mt. Pleasant Wellbriety Day-SAMHSA Sponsored
This event will engage elders, adults, and youth that have endured and survived substance abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence and other forms of generational violence. This recovery event is to honor the survivors and encourage and educate our community about the recovery services available at our Tribe. Scrumptious food will be served to the attendees for Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Camp out tent space will be available at Behavioral health back lawn. Tents can be pitched. RVs will have the Camp grounds for parking. Please bring your friends and families to participate.