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Historical Trauma in the American Southwest Event Recap


On March 17, 2022, PACEs Connection hosted our fifth event in our Historical Trauma in America series. The event was facilitated by PACEs Connection staff members Dana Brown (organizational liaison), Donielle Prince (director of state initiatives), John Dovales Flores (community arts consultant), and Natalie Audage (family and community resources lead). The event featured guest speaker Gabriel Nuñez-Soria, an educator, PhD Student, and Director of the Trauma-Resilient Educational Communities (TREC) Department.

Click here to download the slide deck from this presentation. Then click “download file.”

Click here to download resources from this presentation. Then click “download file.”

The series examines the impact of intergenerational trauma on the health and well-being of individuals today. Historical trauma—another term for intergenerational trauma—is defined by Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart as multigenerational trauma experienced by a specific cultural group resulting in “a cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma.” As recent advances in the science of positive and adverse childhood experiences (PACEs) continue to show the profound impact of historical trauma on society today, PACEs Connection launched this series to educate and empower people to take action to mitigate its adverse impact and promote resilience in their regions.

Please read about events focused on the South, Midwest, Northeast (coming soon), and Northwest.

Please click here to register for the next Historical Trauma in America series event on the State of Hawaii & the U.S. Territories (5/19/22). Also stay tuned for future webinars on “Liberation and Healing.”

Participants were very engaged in the session, as indicated by select contributions and comments below:

  • Gerri Ashe: “This is why history needs to be taught correctly...because some won’t admit to systematic racism and structural bias as they don't know the real history of this country.”
  • Carey Sipp: “It is incumbent upon us to have truths told to help prevent and heal trauma; build resilience in children, families, communities, our nation.”
  • Erin Kehl: “Wow. I was aware of the plight of Native Americans but not about all the atrocities done to Latinos….These sessions are always so stimulating and alarming at the same time.”
  • Jou-Chen Chen: “Thank you for all the amazing presentations. They are so very informative and insightful, and I appreciate everyone’s openness and willingness to share their own story and be vulnerable.”
  • Julie Andrews: “Historical trauma directly connects to the ways in which our communities continue to be marginalized with respect to indigenous peoples' sacred sites, Dakota access pipeline; standing rock, mauna loa, fishing rights, etc.”
  • River Coyote: “It’s hard to move on, when the pain is not acknowledged.  I feel like that is important.”
  • Rose Hatfield: “That 500% increase in incarceration over the [last 40] years, and its long long impact on communities and families really makes me think about the rhetoric going on in my city right now around homelessness, poverty, and crime and the only solution that people want to consider is more incarceration.”
  • Linda Douglas: “I have found that the more I have learned about historical and generational trauma, the more I have been able to heal and forgive my parents for their inability to parent effectively and safely.  My grandfather was an indigenous boarding school survivor and my father came from poor Irish immigrants.”

Topics covered by PACEs Connection staff included:

  • Overview of the series including a review of the concepts of collective trauma, intergenerational transmission of trauma, and historical trauma, featuring the RYSE Center’s infographic on Interacting Layers of Trauma and Healing framework (Natalie Audage)
  • Historical examples of traumatic events impacting Indigenous communities in California and the Southwest, including genocide, Mission schools, boarding schools, forced assimilation, ethnic cleansing, and religious violence (Dana Brown)
  • Historical examples of traumatic events impacting Southeast Asian Americans in California’s central valley related to their post Vietnam war refugee resettlement in that region (Donielle Prince)
  • Historical examples of traumatic events impacting Latinx communities in the Southwest  including racial violence, Missions, white mobs, biochemical warfare, and mass incarceration and the connection between these experiences and Latinx-led labor and social justice movements (John Dovales Flores)

The event also featured guest expertise:

  • Guest speaker Gabriel Nuñez-Soria gave a powerful presentation on Resilience, Compassion, and Critical Consciousness: Thriving in Spite of Historical Trauma. He spoke of his family history, which includes both Chicano and Irish roots, and the development of his Chicano identity. He shared moving stories of exclusion from educational opportunities and racial and personal trauma, as well as the power of activism, therapy, healing Native ceremonies, relationships, and positive protective factors in his life.
  • Dr. Dale Allender, a professor at Sacramento State University, was unable to present at the session, but he sent a video for participants about historical trauma and healing historical trauma. He is currently working on a book about healing historical trauma through restoring connection to culture.

Additional resources shared by participants included:

If you would like to join us for future events, please click
here to register for the next Historical Trauma in America series event on the State of Hawaii & the U.S. Territories (5/19/22).

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