CAPA Blog

The Impact of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma on American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (11/25) – Trauma not only effects those who directly experience it, but also those in the generations that follow. Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart describes historical trauma as the “cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations, including the lifespan, which emanates from massive group trauma.” The span of one generation is not a long time. In fact, an American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) who is over the age of 30 is only one generation removed from the “boarding school era.” During this era, many AI/AN children were removed from their homes, families, and communities and forced to assimilate to the culture and practices of the majority population. These experiences caused a ripple effect of intergenerational trauma throughout Indian Country. When discussing the effects of this historical trauma, many AI/ANs have been told to “get over it.” However, dismissing what happened does not help these communities move forward. To move forward, this history and its effects on AI/AN communities must be understood. This is not dwelling on the past, but ensuring a brighter future by addressing barriers and creating solutions. Read more

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