People often overlook how damaging trauma from past generations can be on future generations. I was recently having a conversation about African Americans and Native Americans. The discussion was about how years of slavery, stolen culture, and oppression is something that isn’t easy to shake mentally. If you were taught self hatred and constantly treated as if you weren’t equal to other human beings, that trauma stays with you and is passed on. A lot of the time we sympathize with one tragedy but have little sympathy for others. Would you tell a holocaust survivor to get over the holocaust? Would you tell a family member of a 9/11 victim to get over the attacks on that horrible day? So why do we expect African Americans and Native American’s to get over the genocide and mistreatment both groups had to endure for years? Psychologically a lot of African and Native Americans can’t overcome the destruction both groups faced.
When you examine Africans, who were taken from their land, forced into slavery, and robbed of their culture; it’s easy to see how this psychological trauma is still very prevalent today. In many of our urban communities where the majority is African American you see a rise in crime and a lack of regard for the upkeep of the neighborhood. Me, being a young African American male from this type of environment, I believe a lot of the crime is due to self-hatred. Richard Wright once said “men starve from a lack of self realization just as much as they starve from a lack of bread and water.” As slaves, we were treated like animals, we were sold as objects, and our families were broken apart. Even during the Civil Rights movement we were unable to drink from the same water fountain as whites, live in the same neighborhoods, or even go to the same schools. This segregation led us to believe that we weren’t equals. After being oppressed for so long you begin to believe your oppressor. So, today in the black community, you still see broken families, black on black crime due to the self-hatred that was instilled in us since we were brought to America. We need spiritual and emotional healing; we need leaders to put community centers and things of substance in these communities. Better schools lead to a better education which presents more options. This eliminates drug dealing and crime seeming like the only conducive sources of income. Our whole way of thinking needs to be retrained and we need to find value in ourselves and our communities.
Now let’s take a look at Native American people, the true founders of this land we now call America. Their land was inhabited by Europeans and stolen from them; they were used and exploited for their land, culture and traditions. Many Native Americans died due to European diseases and from fighting in wars such and the Creek and Seminole Wars. They were then forced to relocate when the US Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It’s tragic to think that the true owners of this land were forced into seclusion, robbed of their culture and traditional ways of life. Marcus Garvey once said “a people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” So when we talk about the issues that exist on the reservation we have to remember where they started. The excessive alcohol use and lack of tradition is because they were introduced to this way of life. The trauma from all of this is very prevalent today, and spiritual and emotional healing is imperative for the indigenous people.
I hope this blog gives you a little more insight into what we are fighting for here at the CANA Foundation. We are fighting to restore native tradition and culture. The horses and people are synonymous, the same way the horses are broken up and stripped of their land and relocated; is the same way the BIA tries to control the indigenous people. And rewilding the horses back on native land is a way to rewild the indigenous people, and reintroduce them to traditions that were lost along the way. We want to heal these groups that have experienced so many traumas and offer them a way to heal themselves rather than point the finger and tell them to get over it. So please help us fulfill our goals and log on to www.canafoundation.org and see how you can help and get involved with such a great cause.