Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief: A Culturally Anchored Intervention
Project Leader: Patricia Holkup, MSU
This community-based participatory research (CBPR) project, Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief: A Culturally Anchored Intervention for American Indians, built on a nine year relationship between members of the BN community and a faculty member at the MSU College of Nursing. When informally surveyed by a Blackfeet Nation (BN)community organizer about the most pressing issue related to health disparities, the impact of perceived widespread, unresolved grief was identified as foundational to the health disparities experienced on the Blackfeet Reservation. Native American scholars have developed a compelling case for linking centuries of historical trauma to continued unresolved grief in Native communities today. The historical trauma response has been linked to internalized oppression, depression, suicide, homicide, domestic violence, and addictions. It has been asserted that historical trauma has had deleterious effects on the economic and political structure in Native communities and that healing from the trauma must occur before the economic welfare of tribal people can improve.
The overall goal of this project was to begin a healing process for unresolved grief among the Blackfeet people with the aim of interrupting the intergenerational transmission of the deleterious sequelae stemming from historical trauma. The purposes of the project were to: a) describe the experience of current grief among Blackfeet adults, b) explore the relationship of historical trauma to complicated and/or traumatic grief, and c) pilot and evaluate a culturally anchored grief recovery intervention. The specific aims included: 1) providing a community-wide historical trauma awareness conference, 2) providing training for community members who will facilitate grief recovery retreats, 3) piloting and evaluating six grief recovery retreats, and 4) training Blackfeet Community College (BCC) students in CBPR and qualitative research methods.
The current extended funding provides additional support for completing data analysis of the data collected in the project, including a cultural review of the results, and having a final meeting with a community advisory board to discuss prospective future directions of the project in the Blackfeet Nation. This additional funding also allows for a trial introduction of the grief retreat to another reservation in Montana that has expressed interest in the possible benefits the grief retreat might have for their community.