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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.

Lesson 5 – The Changer: Coming Home Again

Goal

Learn about helping others and giving back and recognize the benefit to self, others, family, and the community.

Activity

Listen to Woody’s story in Video #2 and review the information and questions presented in this Lesson for self-reflection.  Use these links to access the available resources with this lesson:  Woody Morrison’s BiographyHistory of the Haida TribeAnger Information SheetFeelings Resource Sheet, the Historical Trauma Resource Sheet. and the Woody Morrison, The Changer 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.

Answer the following questions:

1. Do you know someone in your family/community that has problems with alcohol?

2. Do you know someone in your family/community that has problems with anger?

3. Do you know someone in your family/ community that has been hurt and doesn’t seem to be able to heal from this?

4. Do you know someone in your family/community that seems “stuck” in the hurt and pain?

5. Do you believe the youth in your family/community have the supports to be healthy?

If you answer YES to any of these questions, ask yourself one more question:

1. Do I want to help?

Native cultures have always lived in relationship and harmony between people, land, water and air, sprits, creatures, language, ceremonies, celebrations, customs, dress, and traditions; history and future. Life in balance with the Earth demanded learning how to help each other. Helping others is a fundamental way of life for Earth people. In the Hero’s Journey, the Changer understands that the journey reveals talents and skills to help others. Each of us has these abilities but must discover them along the way. Woody transformed from someone whom felt disconnected, alone, and angry to an Elder, Storyteller, and leader.

In Woody’s story, he has identified several places where he has become The Changer. These include teaching and supporting young people, teaching about spirituality, teaching about the Haida culture, and supporting family.

1. What does Woody teach about our young people? What are his thoughts about empowering youth and listening to them?
2. What does Woody mean about a person’s Spirit coming back to them?
3. What are the five things Woody suggests we pray for?
4. How does Woody use stories to offer advice?
5. Woody teaches about the totem pole. What did you learn about this and how can this help us with understanding violence against women?

Our own experiences both positive and negative often provide for us the understanding of what our friends and family are experiencing. The Life journey of experience is known to be the best Teacher.

“And then I started remembering, in Haida when we talk about the past, [?????], “its way over there.” The past is in front of me, not behind me. I can see it.

It’s like I’m sitting in the river and the river is coming this way. When something shows up, I have to deal with it then, because it’ll never be there again. Once in awhile, in a river, something will get caught in it, and it’ll hit me. That’s that traumatic experience. If I put it behind me like they said, it’s going to hit me in the face again, but if I let it go, I can see where it fits in to my history and it starts to make sense.

That’s when another part of my healing began. I could see. And there’s times I get, I guess, depressed, when I start seeing me, the journey I’ve been on and the people I’ve hurt, but it’s all part of me, I can’t deny it.”

– Woody Morrison, Jr.