Woodrow Morrison, Jr.

As we strive to end violence against all people, we especially focus on those most vulnerable; women, children, and elders within our Native communities. The story and lessons addressing anger help us to understand the need for balancing emotions. They also help us to know that all of our emotions are valuable, and that we must learn to listen to the messages delivered by each one.

In the following lessons, writer Numpa Foxes Singing presents teachings designed to help us re-establish respect and harmony throughout all generations of Native families and communities. These teachings include the integration of positive identity development with building healthy relationships, encouraging appropriate conduct and skills development, and the restoring of traditional cultural values back into our family relationships.

Anger Information Sheet

Anger is universal. Its presence is known throughout all cultures and within all regions. It is an ordinary emotion. The relationship that individuals and cultures have with anger, however, is different.

Anger has a positive purpose in our lives. It often warns us as to another emotion indicating a need or want that is not yet met. It motivates us and gives us energy following a loss. It alerts others that there may be more need of help and support. Anger is a sign, a very important one!

Anger occurs when there is an underlying emotion. It helps us to recognize feelings such as sadness, fear, loneliness, hurt, feeling put down, or not respected are underlying and often, internally destructive. To effectively deal with anger, these emotions are to be recognized and understood. Relationship is critical to natural law. Creating a relationship with anger and the connected emotions builds understanding and confidence for the person to develop mastery over destructive behavior and harmful choices.

Anger results from personal trauma. Physical assault, sexual assault, verbal abuse, mental manipulation, and environmental violence are traumas that have painful outcomes.
Anger results from historical trauma. Individual, family, community, and cultural trauma have occurred to Native American people. The establishment of reservations, movement in thinking from a circle to a square, removal of children from homes and to boarding schools, refusal of “allowing” Native Americans to use their own language are but a few of the abuses. The outcome of these abuses and violence is frequently carried forth from generation to generation when the pain and suffering is not recognized or addressed.

Anger unresolved manifests physical illness. The effects of behavior associated with anger include physical illness such as hypertension, addictions, victimization such as domestic violence, dependencies, mental illness, hopelessness, isolation, and loss of friendships and community.

Anger occurs with spiritual absence and isolation. Native American peoples understand the view of relationship and need for harmony between the people, land, water and air, sprits, creatures, language, ceremonies, celebrations, customs, dress, and traditions; history and future; and, the need to be taught or learn how to live. To live outside “Tamanwit” is to live in conflict with oneself and others, to live in illness, mental, physical or emotional, or all three; to be sick as the Elders say.

Anger is manageable. Reconnection of individuals, families, and the community with Elders and Traditions creates passage through personal and historical traumas. Relationship and trust builds understanding, acceptance, and health.