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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.

Healing Through Service- Indigenous Medicine


When I visit my people in West Africa, I often tease them by saying,     

      "If the Europeans ships came again tomorrow, we would be stolen again!"

This is a joke to me because I am always amazed by the warm reception I receive when I visit new villages. Despite my light-brown skin, and clearly Western mannerisms, I am always welcomed and cared for. When I present with physical, spiritual or emotional issues, my people immerse me in medicine: Women might dance and cook for 3 consecutive days, Shaman will travel to the ends of the earth to gather the right herbs, from the right place and at the right time, men will drum until the rhythm heals my soul. This is Africa.

A few years ago, while working in Indian Country, I had a group of boys over Mother's Day weekend. There were 6 boys and none of them knew where there mothers were. The sadness was apparent in their physical postures; with their heads down and shoulders rolled forward, my normally energetic babies were slowed to a near halt. Instead of leading some clever Mother's Day activity, they needed indigenous medicine. There was no dancing, no drumming, and no herbs. We had the medicine of service.

We went to the store and bought food to prepare for the homeless. I told the boys,

         "Cooking, if done right, is an act of love. Pour all the love you have for your mother into this food, and then we will find people who are hungry and serve them. In turn, where ever your mom is right now, the Creator will find someone to feed her and love her today."

Before I knew it, they boys were writing special messages to strangers on the brown paper bags that contained the food. They worked hard loving and preparing the food. When it was all ready to go, we drove to Phoenix to find people to love. Initially, some of the boys were hesitant to get out of the van and hand people the bags, but then they saw the reactions. There were beautiful men and women with tears in their eyes thanking my sweet boys and readily eating the food. The boys immediately knew the impact of their efforts. We talked about the importance of service. They learned that healing occurs through love and serving others because they were healing themselves!

We ascend through adversity. Although I enjoy discussing Historical Trauma and analyzing its negative impact on people, I truly LOVE seeing the strength and healing that emerges through the depths of despair. Today, a Hopi/Navajo elder reminded me that love and kindness is the Native way. As our technology advances, we move further from the ancestral ways. We should remember that some of the best medicine comes from our indigenous past. Begin to heal your heart through serving others.


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