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Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

Elaine Grinnell is a storyteller representing her people, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe. She maintains many roles as a wife, mother, grandmother, family and friend to many. Elaine calls her birthplace home -- the northwest corner of Washington State. In her story, Elaine describes how addictions have affected her people, the S’Klallam people. She shares stories of how her family found the strength to deny the power of addictions, and she shares how the tribe is working towards the task of supporting those finding themselves in the powerful grasp of addictions. Read Elaine’s account of how addictions are losing the war over control of her people, the S’Klallam people of Washington State.

Lesson 2 – The Wanderer: Acceptance

Goal:

To discover how other people’s behaviors can impact our own behaviors and how these behaviors can cause us to wander about trying to come to terms and accepting our diabetes.  We will discover that we have much support when we accept that diabetes requires us to accept it and we can find acceptance and move towards healing.

Activity

  • Read material for lesson II
  • Listen to the Radio Interview & read the transcripts of Delores George (if needed)
  • Do the Change Exercise
  • Read, answer, and discuss questions

What is a wanderer?

According to Webster’s dictionary, it is to move about aimlessly or without a fixed course or goal, to go astray in conduct or thought.  We sometimes feel like we are wandering about, searching for some connection to someone or a connection with some place or both, to be accepted and to accept who we are and the things that make us who we are.

Acceptance

is the ability to receive news, gifts, or compliments, but sometimes we get news or information that we don’t want to hear or it creates an emotional trauma, negative feelings, or physical reactions of feeling sick or even depressed.  This is what happens when someone is diagnosed with diabetes, there is a time when we might not want to accept those words and this causes us to become a “wanderer”, someone who begins to seek out answers, paths, and a place to feel we belong or to find others who understand how we are feeling and want to spend time with because we can talk about our feelings and the changes that are occurring in our lives due to diabetes, a place to release to share.

The Story of Celilo Falls

When Celilo Falls, near The Dalles, Oregon, was flooded in 1957, the tribal people who had lived, fished, traded, prepared, and gathered in ceremony and celebration were disheartened and felt the pain of losing a loved one. The people of the Columbia River fished salmon for their food and traded with other tribes and local people for other types of foods.  Many wondered how they could ever survive without their beloved falls and the salmon it provided.

For the Columbia River people, the acceptance of flooding the falls was extremely painful.  For many years the people searched their own roots and ceremonies for healing.  Some felt lost.  50 years later a   Commemoration was held to remember this atrocity and for a community healing to begin.                                                                                               http://www.nwcouncil.org/history/CeliloFalls.asp

The Story of Celilo Falls marks an event of historical trauma indicating the search and need for healing.  Delores George of the Yakima Nation speaks of ways to find healing.

Read and listen to excerpts of an interview with Delores George:

Q: “If you’d like to start by introducing yourself, tell us a little bit about where you’re from and your             tribal affiliations.”

A: “I’m sixty-five years old, I was born in Satus.  Um, outside of our home, you know, long ago the elders             used to build a tipi outside of the home for the, the birthing was taking place.  So that’s how I was             born in Satus, Washington.  I’m a member of the Yakama Nation.  And I’ve got a little bit of blood             from the Nez Perce and a little bit of Klamath.  So that’s my mixture.  But I’m a full-blood American             Indian.”

Delores mentioned two places she goes for support while participating in her traditional religious and ceremonial beliefs.

And then going to powwows, and I belong to the Wa’Shat religion, which is here ah, is Toppenish             longhouse.  That’s where I go every Sunday.  And then I go to Medicine Dances.  I’m a singer there.      I’m not a person that heals.  I just sing for my own emotional stress, to get rid of that, you know so.          Right now there’s several going on right now, but I just pick and choose which ones to go to, because        you have to give things away to be involved in those so.  And I can’t really afford to go to all of them,      although I’ve been invited everywhere.” – Delores George

Oh yes!  All the singers that go, they talk about their health.  And what’s going on in their   household, their children.  Um, a lot of the things they talk about is really graphic, personal, private           things and that they deal with in their homes.  And um, there’s a lot of other issues, like murder and      rape, incest, things like that, that happen due to alcohol and drug use, you know.  And so these things,   a lot of things are talked about.  And so to eliminate, like I said, the depression and stress of those lifestyles, they sing to help themselves and to pray for themselves and others in the same situations.” – Delores George

Many tribes experience loss, stress, depression and pain.  Delores helps us to understand use of the Medicine Lodges and her Longhouse as places of support; places that accepted her and her issues. These places became a support system, an extended family, and a place of belonging.   She also teaches us that praying as a community (for themselves and others in the same situations) is helpful.   These are examples from her story that can be used to guide us towards finding a place where we can be accepted as a family member and find support.

Change Exercise: Places of Acceptance and Circles of Support

Finding a place to release your stress and depression like Delores helps with change, it will allow you to connect with others, feel safe to share your feelings, and gain understanding of yourself and others.

  • Can you think of places where your tribe might be able to provide this type of support?

Think of people (friends, family, spiritual, professionals, or other people) that have provided support in your life and the kind of support that they have provided.  You can also think of where the support has been provided; for example – at work, school, church, long house, ceremonial dances.

Circles of Support

Instructions: Print out the Circle of Support worksheet on next page or you can draw one like it if you would like.  Using the worksheet, begin to develop your Circles of Support.

  1. Begin with putting your name in the Center circle.
  2. In the circles to the North, South, East, and West, identify family, friends, co-workers, supervisor, spiritual leader, or anyone who you feel supports you in some way.  You can also list places or types of support such as work, church, long house, sweat lodge.  It is important to identify those where you spend time with others and those who accepts you for who you are.
  3. When you have filled in the circles, answer the following questions.

Questions:

  • Is there anyone in my support circle whom I can talk to about diabetes?
  • Is there anyone in my support circle who will start an exercise plan with me?
  • Is there anyone in my support circle who already exercises?
  • Is there anyone in my support circle who usually eats a healthy diet?
  • If there isn’t anyone in my support circle now, where can I find new support?

After completing the Circle of Support exercise, make a list of people and places you feel accepted and are able to freely talk about diabetes like Delores did at her traditional activities within her community.

Circles of Support Circles of Support