Emmonak addresses trauma in healing conference

by Sophie Evan on March 6, 2013

The village of Emmonak has taken the first step toward healing their village from the dysfunctional and hurtful behaviors that came with first contact with the Western world. The various organizations in Emmonak came together to formally request YKHC’s Preventative Services Department to put on a three-day healing conference, which started Tuesday.

YKHC’s preventative services department is unique, in that the staff, presentations and learning are all done in the traditional Yup’ik way. Director, Rose Domnick, and the Family Spirit Program Coordinator, Sophie Jenkins, tell their History of first contact from just three generations back, and how each generation has suffered many losses to date.

The Tribal and City governments, the local catholic church, the women’s shelter, and locals all came together to learn the root causes of the social ills Yup’ik people suffer. From the great deaths, where whole villages perished, and sometimes left one child behind. Historical trauma like that, down to the taking away of five year old children from their parents to learn the Western ways. Then the five year old is sent home, not quite Yupik and not quite Western.

Sophie Jenkins, message to the community is that it’s not too late to raise our children and grandchildren in the traditional Yup’ik ways, saying, to acknowledge the hurt, is the first step to healing.

The day ended with five healing circles, separated by gender. The questions posed to be discussed were;
what was one thing that you heard about historical trauma that impacted you the most?
Did it show you something new about your own story?
Did it show you something new about your community?

Today, the conference will focus on Understanding Healing, and how to apply the values of the Yup’ik culture.

The Yup’ik dancers performed for us last night, and tonight there is a potluck and fiddling.

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