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Phoenix Rising in Resilience (AZ)

We are an online collaborative dedicated to raising awareness about ACEs, trauma-informed practice, and resilience-building in the greater Phoenix area. Given the unique history of this city and region, Phoenix Rising will explore personal and historical sources of trauma.

Becoming Native American: Elder Wisdom and Carl Jung's Perspective


During the last 10 minutes of the Historical Trauma break-out session of the 5th Annual Arizona ACEs Summit, Elder Prosper Waukon reiterated a magnificent story from the elders. It was the 2nd time I heard it and I was equally impacted by it on Tuesday. Today, I called him to hear it one last time so that I could accurately share it with all of you:

Our essence is tied to our land of origin. In the Americas, after 500 years of blood from foreign lands mixing in the soil, all ethnic identities will begin to respond to the spirits that dwell in Indian land. This is Indian Country; it always has been and always will be. In time people, regardless of their origin, will respond to Indian land in the same way Native American people respond to it. The reverse process of assimilation will happen. We will find that people foreign to the Americas may have white skin, but they will think and feel like the indigenous spirits of the land. In time they will become Native American.

According to Delores LaChapelle's book, Earth Wisdom, Dr. Carl Jung had a similar point of view:

As an example of the direct influence of the land upon the human beings, he refers to the colonization of the North American continent by the European race as,"The greatest experiment in the transplantation of a race in modern times. The mixture with Indian blood is so slight that it can play no part, yet the American unconscious definitely contains symbols connected with the Indian symbol system. Thus, the American presents a rare picture; a European with an Indian soul! He shares the fate of all usurpers of foreign land, for in the foreign soil live strange ancestor spirits, and therefore, the strange spirits will inhabit the newborn. There is great psychological truth in this. The strange land assimilates the conqueror."

Hearing Elder Prosper's story and reading Carl Jung's words made me really contemplate how Indian ancestor spirits have inhabited African Americans. I immediately considered the agonizing physical pain and immense sorrow that fueled my ancestor's strength to work this land. I thought about the number of babies born with their blood saturating the cotton fields as their mothers continued working. I thought about the blood, sweat, urine and feces that dripped into the earth from the strange fruit that hung from the trees. I thought of the blood that pooled into the ground following the castration of our men, the blood that spurt out of the wounds of torn and beaten flesh, the blood running from between the legs of violated women. I wondered if the Indian spirits in the soil talked to my ancestors while they endured underground hot box torture. There is certainly an intense mixture of our physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual blood in the earth of the Americas.  

Perhaps, Harvard University historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr., was correct when he said, 

Here are the facts: Only 5 percent of all black Americans have at least 12.5 percent Native American ancestry, the equivalent of at least one great-grandparent.

His statics, however, don't account for the divine wisdom of the earth. Today, I honor the Indian spirit that continues to guide, protect and inhabit us as we navigate mother earth.

Thank you Elder Prosper for the generosity of your wisdom. 



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