Foster Kona Kalama

Lesson 3 – The Caretaker: Speaking the Truth

Goal: Learn about making the choice to connect with others and have relationships again.

Activity: Listen to Kona’s story in Video #1 and review the information and questions presented in this Lesson for self-reflection.  Use these links to access the available resources with this lesson:  Kona Kalama’s Biography, History of the Tribes of Warm Springs, Anger Information Sheet, Feelings Resource Sheet, and the Historical Trauma Resource Sheet.

The Sacred Hoop: We are always connected

All tribal people have Teachings of a Truth that we are all connected.
Many know this as the Medicine Wheel and the Sacred Hoop.
These Teachings share that Life consists of relationships with our families,
with nature, with spirits, and all of creation.

In Lesson #1 and 2 we learned about the isolation and emotional pain of abuse.  We also learned of protective behaviors and traditional values.  In the Hero’s Journey, the orphan wanders and begins to ask questions.  The orphan begins to meet people along the way that offers pieces of information to help answer the questions.  At some point, there is an Elder that offers counsel and support.

Kona began his wandering as a child with a family suffering from historical trauma.  Anger grew and was common in his behavior during his young adult life.  Lesson #3 guides us thru understanding the Hero’s Journey into a time of meeting people on the journey.  We call this the time of the Caretaker.  It is through meeting people along the Journey that we begin to ask the questions and are willing to hear answers.  It is in these relationships we begin to accept friendships and vulnerability.  Kona teaches us the lesson of speaking the truth.

“My healing had always been there. It was a matter of letting it out. Again, it’s called release. You have to release the pain by talking about it in detail until you’re feeling better just like I did a little while ago, talked about sexual abuse. It wasn’t good, the physical abuse, it wasn’t good.”    Kona Kalama

How do I be honest about the past?

Speaking truthfully is important to the healing from domestic violence, anger, and abuse.  The truth has two parts.   It is important to speak of the emotions and feelings that was and is experienced AND it is important to speak of what actually happened or the experience.  Both parts are true.  Both parts help to heal the hurts of the anger and abuse.  Here are two examples from Kona,

Truthful Feelings

“My anger that I carry, sometimes I cry. It takes a real man to cry. When I was growing up they always called me a little girl or made fun of me because I had feelings.  I was grown up to be tough like I told you. Little girls cry, not boys.  Today I turn around and I say, “Hey, it takes a real man to cry. “ Many young men cry in my office. And I say that’s good, because you’re going to grow now, you’re going to get better.”  Kona Kalama.

Truthful Experience

“Yeah it hurts to talk to my mom, the way she beat on me, and they way I was abducted when I was a kid, my aunts would take off with me, because they took off with grandma’s car with me in it, when I was four and five years old. I’d end up at stranger’s places that I didn’t know.  They knew them but I didn’t.  I got poked with needles till I couldn’t breathe.  There are people out there that are so brutally ugly, that they do things to other people.  And that happened to me out there. They’d leave me at places my grandma never ever expected me to be at. When they would find me, my grandmother would hold me and cry and cry and cry and ask me what happened and asked if I was okay. I would tell her everything when I was a little boy.”  Kona Kalama

For those whom have suffered emotional, physical, and sexual abuses, the pain is very big.  It feels sometimes like it is too big to be able to feel or to be able to cope. The truth is that speaking the truth and letting it out is a healing power.  Kona Kalama is an example of this.  He shares of learning about forgiveness and understanding with his family as his childhood had been abusive with a mother whom physically hit him and a father was an alcoholic.

With his Father

I finally wrote a letter to him. I wrote him a twenty page letter, and I shared it with him. Everything he could imagine about life; what he’s taken me through, and it wasn’t good at all, because he wasn’t there.  I said if he was there, mom wouldn’t be hitting on us, beating on us. You owe it to my little brother and my little sisters now, you need to be home and take care of them. And he did.”  Kona Kalama

With his Mother

“The love I had for my mom and still to this day. She gave me a lot. She didn’t always beat me.  She gave me a lot of good things too.  She was a very, very smart woman.  She taught me so many things nobody could ever teach me. So, my healing came together as I got older and I started understanding why and who I was, what made me feel the way I felt.”  Kona Kalama

How do I have relations in the future?

Community and Culture

The Hero’s Journey recognizes that Elders are always there for us along our journey of life.  Many times the pain and suffering from the anger, abuse, and domestic violence is such that we do not recognize the wisdom in these people.  Kona reflects of a visit to a ceremony at the long house.

“One day I went to a longhouse and I heard an elder interpret a song and I said, “Wow.”  Kona Kalama

Community is how we live.  In the Hero’s Journey, as relationship develops the wanderer learns to care more for the others than they do for themselves. This is a very important part of the journey for if they still only care for themselves, they won’t put themselves at risk and will not transform.  Kona speaks of developing relationships with others, becoming vulnerable in sharing his life story, and experiencing healing in community.

It helps tremendously. You have to share your story in order to help somebody else. You can’t just go sit in an office and think you can go by the book.  A lot of these people who go off to school think they have to go by the book.”  Kona Kalama

Helping each other and working through the healing is important to traditional values and way of healing.  By learning about the traditional culture and ways of living, the isolation of anger, abuse, and domestic violence is removed as we work together to help our people.  We are all an important part of the healing.

“There are a lot of different things we could talk about with the drumming and the singing. The Washat is a very healing place. Our people look at is as the time we hear somebody die, somebody sings s song and then we come together and we plan what is going to happen.  We go through the days everything is put together, the dressing, everything. Even after the burial, we have singing and drumming in our sacred Washat religion.  It depends on what the family wants.  Everything is important”   Kona Kalama

Think about your life and answer the following questions to learn more of the importance of truth in your healing.

  1. Do you consider yourself an honest person?
  2. How easy is it to be honest about emotions and feelings?
  3. Can you remember the experiences of your childhood and have you shared them with someone you trust?
  4. Who would you describe your community to be?
  5. How would you describe your culture?
  6. Do you participate in ceremonies, singing, drumming, or talk circles?
  7. Do you recognize anyone in your life as an Elder?

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