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: Who am I?


In this lesson, the Wanderer learns to deal with the past and to put faith in a healthy future.


:In this lesson you will use the task of journaling to recall the person you used to be, the person you are today, and the person you plan to become.   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 privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

- Joseph Campbell

The Wanderer

The natural next step of moving from the feeling of being alone is to move towards finding connections with others.  The role of the Wanderer is to seek out those who provide a means of support in your life.  In searching to find connection you must answer many questions, all related to your own identity and to the identity of those around you.

Important People

In the interview, Elaine Grinnell describes how people influence the choices we make in life. Friends and family can either help or hinder us as we work towards leading healthy lives.

“Have people around you willing to help; there will be good times and bad times.”

- Elaine Grinnell

“You have to be willing to give up friends.  You have a lot of friends that you can party with – and then once you give up that drinking – it seems like they don’t trust you any longer.  People will drop away after awhile.”

- Elaine Grinnell

Identity:  Who am I?

Moving away from addiction requires you take the time to reassess who you are.  It’s a time to ask a lot of questions, and to reflect on your past and assess where you are today.  It’s also a time to imagine what you might want your future to look like, and to think about how you can help redirect your life towards what you envision your life to be.

Action plan

Take a moment to reflect and jot down your thoughts, using the following writing prompts as a guide.

  1. Answer the question “Who am I as a unique individual?”  To answer this, think about the things that make you “an individual” – things like your physical features, personality traits, your name, special talents or personal abilities you possess, etc.   Write down as many individual qualities as you can think of.
  2. Now think about your identity in terms of how you identify with or relate to others.  This is known as your “collective identity.”  Make two lists to describe your collective identity, one depicting who you were in the past, and another describing who you are today.  To answer this, first think about the groups you used to belong to and then, list those who you maintain close ties with today – include as many things as you can think of, such as your gender group, your roles in your extended family, friendships, any social or political groups you belong to, your tribal affiliation, teams, religious/spiritual groups, career, etc.  This list can go on and on, so spend time reflecting on those things you identify with.  Include each one in a sentence that starts with “I am…” (Example: “I am a daughter, mother, sister, and aunt.”)
  3. Think about whether any of the people or groups you list in #2 will hinder your ability to change your life.  Cross out any that you are willing to give up.  Next, determine which members listed in #2 provide you with support as you move in the direction you would like your life to go.  You’ll make a plan for those folks in #4.
  4. Make a plan!  Choose those things from your list in #2 above that you plan to identify with in a healthy way.  Write a statement describing how you plan to include them as a part of your healthy identity.  (Example: If you listed “I am a dad” as a part of your collective identity, then follow that up with, “I will be a loving and supportive dad for my children.”)
  5. Take time to reflect on the parts of your identity listed in #4.  Continue to write, describing how those people and groups will help you as you choose to transform your life.  Cherish everyone on this list!

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