Skip to main content

The Loss of Cultural Identity and Neurological Dysregulation


Pre-COVID, I was invited to speak at a conference in Flagstaff, Arizona. During lunch the organizers brought dancers from the Apache tribe to perform. What we witnessed was so powerful and moving, that it prompted me to inquire about the spiritual significance of the songs and dance. They explained to me that after going to war, the warriors returned to their land and were gathered together to perform that particular dance and song. As a tribal African woman, it all made perfect sense.

As indigenous people, we have always had tools to manage our dysregulation. The song and dance I experienced was one of the Apache ways to "debrief" after witnessing potentially traumatic events. The warriors performed specific movement and rhythm to regulate the brain and spirit prior to returning to their community and families in a harmful state of dysregulation. The wisdom of the ancestors is boundless. Sadly, through colonization we have been stripped of our cultural identity and therefore lost many of our traditional ways that promote health and well-being and act as factors that increase resilience.

48-Hour 6-Level Historical Trauma Specialist Certification Training

We can take it one step further; once Western culture prioritized capitalism, grow and expansion, they divorced themselves from their relationships with the earth and humans with darker skin. It was the only way possible to exploit humans and mother earth, which is necessary to further a capitalist ideology. As the industrial revolution progressed, not only did they buy and sell human beings to further the agenda and pursue God, gold and glory through manifest destiny, but we simultaneously lost even more tools for regulation.

Ourflat2In 2012, I took my seven-year-old son to live in an Ashram in southern India. We lived an extremely austere lifestyle; sleeping in a tiny flat, side by side on the floor with no air-conditioning, refrigerator or modern-day conveniences. What scared me the most was the prospect of hand-washing all of our clothes. There was a lot of red-clay dirt, my son was young and all the boys played in mounds of dirt in nature. To top it off, on Tuesday's (thank goodness we had a brown uniform for the other 4 days) he wore an ALL WHITE uniform to school. I learned to hit the clothes on a huge rock to loosen the dirt and then used a scrubber of sorts to scrub away the remaining debris. It was a long and labor-intensive process. In no time, I began to love my time hand-washing the clothes. Later, I began to understand the neurologically regulating effects of the rhythmic hitting of the clothes on the rock and the soothing sound created by the friction of the scrubber against the fabric. It became a form of moving meditation.

oceanandbamboo [1)

Trauma science teaches us that the brain seeks safety and regulation. If we no longer have ways of neurological regulation connected to the culture and no longer have activities of daily living that promote regulation, we search for alternatives like drugs, alcohol, sweet/salty/fatty foods, and various other potentially harmful substitutes.

The good news is that we can prioritize relationships, engage in re-culturing and promote decolonization while leveraging the abundant information about our neurological system to mitigate the damage of trauma. I am always THRILLED to remember that positive experiences and benevolence is intergenerational too!


in collaboration with


We are the only entity offering a comprehensive, 48-hour Historical Trauma Specialist Certification Program. The Program is broken into 6 levels and is built on a foundation of BIPOC cultures and neurobiology. It is taught from a multicultural perspective, injecting traditions and ideology from various cultures from around the world. In this inclusive study we rely on the ancient tradition of storytelling, visual art and interconnected relationships to intentionally explore difficult topics. The indigenous teaching methods are woven with current academia and research, along with coveted knowledge from Medicine Women\Men, traditional historians and cultural leaders from various African, Native American, Aboriginal and Asian communities to solidify the following topics:  

  • Indigenous Wellness
  • Salutogenesis
  • ACEs & PACES Science
  • Historical, Collective and Intergenerational Trauma
  • Epigenetics
  • Colonization
  • Structural Racism
  • Race-Based Traumatic Stress
  • Anti-Racist Attachment
  • Cultural Attachment Theory
  • Indigenous Attachment
  • Neurological implications of Historical Trauma
  • Alignment of Neurobiology with Desired Behavioral Outcomes
  • Leveraging Neurobiology to Support Healing
  • Fossil Fuel Capitalism as an Extension of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade & Native American Genocide
  • Climate change as a catalyst for violence and prolonged suffering in BIPOC communities all over the world
  • Understanding the injurious relationship between the Western model of pathogenesis and the pervasive system of White Supremacy and its effect on BIPOC communities.
  • A Full Expression of Resilience
  • Re-culturing
  • Decolonization
  • Reconnection to self
  • Commitment to creating an environment of Belonging
  • Simultaneously healing BIPOC communities and Mother Earth
  • Cultural Shift as the Antidote to Homelessness, Violence, Trauma, Climate Change

The program will also investigate the impact of Collective Trauma on:

  • Mexican Americans,
  • Africans throughout the Diaspora
  • Native Americans
  • People of Jewish Decent
  • Puerto Ricans
  • Hawaiians
  • Asian Americans

The Historical Trauma Certification Program takes participants on a journey from wellness to dis-ease and finally provides insight on how to facilitate healing for tribes, communities, families and individual survivors of Historical Trauma.  

The Historical Trauma Specialist Certification Program is designed to embrace people from various sectors. It’s ideal for educators, administrators, behavioral health workers, mental health professionals, physicians, law enforcement, and judges. We have trained adoptive parents and people in multicultural families as well as humans serving, leading, advocating for and working with people of color. We welcome students and anyone interested in understanding race, culture and trauma.  

Each level is an immersive 7-hour training that concludes on Day 2 with an additional 2-hour Talking Circle implemented to process the training with time for Q & A. Additionally, each level of the training provides an opportunity for small break-out sessions to build relationships, consciously process course material and share life experiences, thoughts and ideas around the course topics. The purpose of our program is to incite change. Trauma is healed through relationships and in life’s day to day moments. Historical Trauma is often a painful topic that requires special consideration and opportunities to build rapport with colleagues. Cultural shift demands self-reflection and the ability to see the world through multiple lenses.  

Through the end of 2022 the cost of the entire program is $1500 when paid in full. Each level is $299 when paid individually.

Register Here:

Entire 48-hour Program $1500

Aug 29, 2022 LEVEL 1

Sept 14, 2022 LEVEL 2

Oct 12, 2022 LEVEL 3

Nov 16, 2022 LEVEL 4

Nov 30, 2022 LEVEL 5

Dec 7, 2022 LEVEL 6

*Each level will be available on-demand following the live virtual presentation if you are unable to attend live.

For more information contact:

Iya Affo

***If you have already completed Level 1 or both Level 1 & 2 prior to August 2022, please reach out to Iya for further details.

Add Comment

Comments (0)

Copyright Β© 2023, PACEsConnection. All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.