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 5 – The Changer: Prevention and Recovery


The Changer takes ownership of the role of responsibility for life’s outcomes.


This lesson includes writing positive affirmations about your capabilities for change. Use these links to access the available resources with this lesson:  Elaine Grinnell Biography, History of the Jamestown S’Klallam, Core Values Exercise, and the Historical Trauma Resource Sheet.

The Changer

This role is referred to as the “magician” in the traditional hero’s journey.  It is the place where we discover self-worth, and the place where self-efficacy emerges as a personal reality.  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 your actions during this journey have revealed them to you.  For you, the Changer, this is the place of realization and revelation.

Poetry Activity

Many people cringe at the thought of writing a poem!  In this activity, you are asked to write a series of sentences describing the things you acquired from your personal and cultural background that give you the power to change.  While the task is actually quite simple, the results can be described as poetic.

Writing poetry is a lot like singing; it’s an act of expression that is therapeutic.  Just as singing is accomplished best when it comes from deep within, your poetic “voice” sounds best when it comes from the heart.  In this exercise, you will reminisce and reclaim your past, and in doing so, discover an abundance of resources you may have forgotten.   You will draw upon your natural “cultural” resources and recognize strength from deep within.

There’s a simple formula to follow to complete this task.

1.     To get started, jot down the names of people who have been influential to you during your lifetime.
2.     Then alongside each name, list a few positive words describing what you learned or gained from that person.


Coach Gary – funny, protective
Grandma Justine – caring, enjoyed family, loved to feed everyone
Cousin Junior – strong-willed, truthful

3.     Next, use the descriptive words above as topics to begin writing a series of sentences.  Each sentence shall be a proclamation of your past, and the influences you received from the people in your life.  Start each sentence with the phrase, “I am from …”


I am from laughter and good jokes
I am from those who cared and those who took care of one another
I am from nourishing a hungry child
I am from strength and truth

4.     When you’ve finished writing your sentences, arrange them in way that speaks the rhythm of your heart.

Think about those people who influenced in your life and what you learned from each one.  Think about how you can revive each lesson learned and draw on the strength passed down to you.  You learned it.  You earned it.  And now it’s yours to use!

Giving to others can be a bit risky.  You don’t know how others will react to a caring gesture; will they be skeptical or appreciative, insulted or grateful?  But taking emotional risks is an exercise that helps to build emotional wellness.  It’s also the first step to repairing broken relationships that often result from addictive behaviors.  So take the challenge and see what it feels like to spread kindness to yourself and others!

Elaine Grinnell on working together:

“…it is a wonderful thing to behold when you see the teams of canoes that come in and how everyone comes around the corner…and they are singing.  And to know, too, that they have all their people all behind them – their own tribe.  And I think that’s the part of being a tribe.  That’s part of being interconnected.  What a marvelous thing.”