Discovering Our Story

Important Definitions

1.     Transformation describes the act of change.  Making a decision to accept transformation means you are willing to do the difficult work necessary for bringing change to your life.  The work of transformation is the task you must accept in order to redirect your life.  Doing transformational work can feel exhausting and it may sometimes feel like there is no end to the work you are doing.  There is no destination; the work is continuous.  When you choose to do the work necessary for transformation, you accept that you will continue to look for better ways to lead a more productive and satisfying life.  And when you accept the notion of change, you will come to realize that change is good.

2.      Metaphor is used throughout storytelling. Metaphors are used as a symbolic way for describing a higher meaning. For example, the idea of flying may be used as a metaphor describing personal ability.  (Think of the song, “I Believe I Can Fly.”  The lyrics aren’t suggesting that someone truly believes he/she can fly, rather they suggest that the individual believes he/she has the ability to soar towards achieving personal greatness.)  You will find metaphor being used throughout these lessons as a means for teaching and inspiring creative thought.  The use of metaphor helps us to think outside the box; it helps us to imagine the impossible as possible.  Metaphor is a great tool we can use to help us become empowered as we work towards achieving self-efficacy.

3.      Storytelling and the power of myth – Stories are everlasting.  And storytelling as a teaching tool is timeless.   Hidden among our stories we find countless lessons.  We can learn something new each time we hear a story; a single story can teach a different lesson every time it’s told!  A story is transparent; we may gain new understanding about ourselves every time a story is told.  While a story may be considered objective, we personalize it by giving it meaning.  A story may inspire perception, a sudden intuitive realization, or serve as an epiphany for the listener.  That is the power of myth.

4.     The Hero’s Journey – This journey of change includes lessons and activities structured around the basic stages Joseph Campbell identifies and refers to as the cycle of myth.  Doing the work described in each of these lessons/stages will help you find answers to complex questions or situations.  You may assume the different roles described by Campbell in the work you do.

5.     Orphan – The feeling of being alone; being in a place that causes you to feel isolated from others; feeling singly challenged, and even feeling overwhelmed at times by the work facing you.

6.     Wanderer – The natural next step of moving from the feeling of being alone is to move towards connection with others; searching for a means of support; trying to find acceptance; looking for answers.

7.     Caretaker – Being the caretaker means placing others (or someone) front and center in your life.  It means caring for someone else’s needs (or safety), even before considering your own.  Being a caretaker is a selfless act; a caretaker makes the statement, “I care enough about you to place your needs before my own.”

8.     Warrior – During the course of the hero’s journey, you may find it necessary to declare war on those things that stand in the way of achieving where you want to be, or who you want to become.  In addictions, the “enemy” may take the shape of your old lifestyle, may be a circumstance, or be individuals or groups standing in the way of your transformation.  Choosing to become a warrior is a courageous act

9.     Changer – This role is referred to as the “magician” in the traditional hero’s journey; it’s a place of self-awareness.  This is the stage where you realize you possess the strength and wisdom necessary to bring about change. These are qualities you had all along, but the act of the journey reveals them to you.  This is a place of realization and revelation.

10. Elder – This is reference to someone who assumes a leadership role in your journey; in this sense, an elder it is not based upon chronological age, but rather on merit.  An elder is your mentor, your guide, someone/something you confide in and turn to for guidance and assistance.

11. Historical trauma is a relatively new theory and of recent has been used to shed light on the health status of particular populations.  Specific cultural groups of people who were systematically traumatized by past events (e.g., slavery, genocide, colonialism, war, holocaustic events, etc.), and whose descendants experience health disparities attributed to those circumstances, are described as being victims of historical trauma.  The intention of describing disparities resulting from historical trauma is to bring insight and direction towards resolving those health issues.

12. Ecocide is the act of destroying the natural resources (e.g., a food source) or the environment (e.g., through alteration or contamination) of a geographical area.
Ecocide was a strategy used to eliminate populations of Indians.  For example Plains Indians depended upon buffalo for sustenance and so as an act of ecocide, the U.S. government placed a bounty on the hides of the buffalo, resulting in the over-hunt of the animal, and reducing its population to near distinction.  Another example of ecocide is seen in the development of the Dalles Dam, and the effects it had on Celilo Falls, a traditional fishing village of many Northwest Indian tribes.  Building the dam was a civic project led by settlers new to the Pacific Northwest.  The plan to build the dam was one-sided, and was driven by the purpose of harvesting the natural resources available by the massive Columbia River.  While the dam supported the new growth of the area, it also resulted in the destruction of one of the greatest fishing areas found in our country.  This led to the depletion of a main food source of many Indian tribes.  Leaders of the project paid little heed to the effects their decision had on the tribes who were dependent upon Celilo Falls for sustenance.

13.  Genocide – the deliberate and systematic extermination of a group of people; an act that is committed for reasons that are national, racial, political, or cultural.

14. Cultural Genocide – the deliberate and systematic elimination of the cultural identity of a group of people.  The system of Indian boarding schools was a government policy established for the purpose of eliminating the cultural identity of Indian people.  The phrase “kill the Indian, save the man” is often used to describe the boarding school era.

15. Assimilation is the act of moving someone from a subordinate cultural identity to one that more closely resembles that of dominant mainstream society. The Indian Relocation Act of 1956 is an example of a policy issued for the purpose of promoting assimilation of American Indian people to mainstream society.

16. Separation, whole tribes were removed from their lands of origin and forced to walk hundreds of miles to a location reserved for “Indians”, they were isolated from their extended families, natural foods, medicines and left to die from starvation, sickness and the harsh cold weather.

17. Another act of assimilation is known as Termination. Starting in the 1940’s and continuing over the next two decades, Congress governed under the policy of ending the recognition of sovereignty maintained by the tribes, and trying to make all Indians citizens of the United States.