Throughout my years working in American Native communities, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the power of relationship. From the level of community, to family and other interpersonal levels of healing, relationship has been a most necessary catalyst.
In the spring of 2018, along with my colleagues at Thrive Unltd., we launched “Re:Define,” a wellness initiative aimed at fostering awareness about and healing from the lingering effects of historical/intergenerational trauma within the Native American population. As we embarked on our journey, working with various communities, we were gifted an invaluable learning experience, as well. As Native American peoples, we hold “family” and “community” with high idealistic regard; however, along the way, it became apparent that the context of these terms had changed and no longer represented the same relationships. The overwhelming stories of various traumas, abuses, and adversities, faced by both young and old, painted a sobering picture of broken connections and withering bonds. This was a difficult truth to acknowledge and address, but it exposed a long-neglected, collective intergenerational wound, detrimental to Native American peoples of today. A common thread throughout all of these stories was the absence of love or the misconception of what a truly healthy connection represents.
As we began to foster safe environments for connection, something beautiful began to unfold- legitimate healing. We witnessed elders who had walked through life shouldering the burden of unspeakable trauma, being relinquished of their shame and hurt; young people in the throes of depression and suicide finding freedom and inspiration; and families transforming generations from unhealthy behaviors and equipping them with coping mechanisms.
Here, in this sacred space, the true spirit of healing that countless generations of our ancestors held faithful was revealed through connection, love, compassion, and understanding. In order for our communities to heal, our families need to heal. If our families are to heal, we as individuals must heal- together, connected.
I believe this is what our grandparents envisioned through their prayers, songs, and efforts to preserve our culture. They envisioned us learning the ultimate lesson: empowerment and healing through authentic connection.
Thrive Unltd. was founded in 2018 by Jeremy Fields, a descendent of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Crow Tribe of Montana, and the Chickasaw Tribe of Oklahoma. Over the past 18 years, Jeremy has worked extensively as a leadership trainer throughout Indian Country. He is passionate about empowering tribal communities and specializes in facilitating internal (mental, emotional, psychological) healing for youth and adults. Having spent much of his career working directly with suicide prevention, substance abuse, and behavioral health issues, he has experienced first hand the power of culture and identity as time-tested, healing mechanisms. Visit Thriveunltd.com for more info.