Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Community Addresses Historical Trauma

By Marisa Van Zile, Cultural Committee Chairperson

This past Monday, the Cultural Committee hosted a community film screening and talking circle to bring awareness and start the conversation around how historical trauma impacts our community. This is the first time this topic has been brought up as a community effort here in Mole Lake. It is our hope that this will build healing in our community.

Susan Van Zile, SCC Tribal Elder and boarding school survivor, and I presented at the event. It was such an honor to hear the inspirational and encouraging words about forgiveness shared by Susan.

Historical trauma is multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural, racial or ethnic group.  Historical trauma is at the root of many disparities in Indian country, including mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, incarceration, low self-esteem, lateral violence and a wide range of medical issues.

The Cultural Committee had a bake sale and raffles to raise funds for future events, and Brighter Days provided program information for community members. Participants received a survey on stigma and Narcan access produced by Wisconsin Voices for Recovery and me. I appreciate everyone’s feedback.

The White Bison Wellbriety film The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness was shown and is about a 40-day, 6,800 mile cross-country journey to present and former Indian School sites. The goal is to promote awareness and forgiveness among Native people for the historical trauma of the Indian Boarding School Era.

The evening ended with a talking circle. A safe space was made for people to share ideas on healing and to connect their personal life experiences with the topic. A follow-up event will take place later this year, and we hope to grow community support of historical trauma effects.

I’m a certified Mending Broken Hearts facilitator and Wellbriety organizer since 2013. The Mending Broken Hearts programs provide culturally-based healing from grief, loss and Intergenerational Trauma, especially for Native people from the United States and Canada. Mending Broken Hearts is a workshop that goes hand-in-hand with the film. Last year, I facilitated two workshops as a part of my role as Peer Support Specialist. Upcoming Mending Broken Hearts workshop dates will be announced in May.

I invite everyone to attend our weekly Wellbriety meetings on Thursdays at 6:00 pm at the Cultural Building. New dates will be announced in May.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or to sign up or call me at 715-622-0328.

Chi-miigwech to all of our participants and to Susan Van Zile for having courage and strength for our Tribe. Miigwech to everyone that provided food, the Mole Lake Casino and Lodge, SCC THPO, Young Weber, the SCC Tribal Council, Brighter Days staff and our Cultural committee.