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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.

The Sacredness of Fatherhood


In my culture, I was bestowed the title of Holy Mother. In traditional ceremony, my divined name is Mother of the Universe. I am a proud and powerful Mama, Big Mommy, Mommy and Mother. But, I need to talk about fathers.

My Precious Little Daughter, was frequently the opening line to emails sent to me by my dad. Over a year ago my father, an African Medicine Man, realized that he only had a short time to live. He was desperate to get to my oldest son to perform ritual before joining the ancestors. He didn't make it. He died en route; on the tarmac in Amsterdam. 

My father was a disciplinarian. I laugh because even from the grave, he is STILL the boss of me. I can hear his voice, see his face and feel his disappointment when I am moving on the wrong path. He was authentic and real. He was passionate! His words were sharp and well tracked like the most precise arrow. Although the initial piercing could feel intrusive, his love was an anesthetic that neutralized everything and allowed me to process the value of what he said. I trusted him. Even when I couldn't readily see his logic, I knew there was wisdom in his words. I miss the excitement of seeing a gmail notification with his name on it.

Working in Indian country, I often witness beauty between fathers and their children. History and the media would have us believe that Native and African fathers are toxic, but I know differently.

Last week, I heard a presentation from Albert Pooley, a Hopi and Navajo man who is the founder of Native American Families and Fatherhood Association. He developed a program called Fatherhood is Sacred. During his opening remarks Mr. Pooley stated "Native men make wonderful husbands and fathers!" I was so excited to hear someone else express what I know to be true. In my work, I have seen many fathers become sober, raise their own children and take on children from other men because the moms are absent. Time and time again, I have witnessed fathers in court taking custody of their children's siblings or girlfriends' kids. 

Colonization has been a destructive force to the family foundation of many indigenous people. In West Africa for example, women have traditionally held a very powerful place in society. It wasn't until after colonization that the roles of women became marginalized and oppression ensued. In many Francophone countries like Benin Republic, women were encouraged to stay home with the children, while men were forced away from families and their significant role in child rearing. This has contributed to the instability of African families throughout the Diaspora. There have been similar issues in Indian Country and it is important for families to remember how to live as a family; with each partner having equal importance, respect and distinct roles. 

I am excited to take Mr. Pooley's Fatherhood is Sacred training. Every woman and girl should have the strong presence of a father's sacred love and guidance. Through balance we have harmony. Healing and preventing ACES starts with the family.

~ In Loving Memory of Araba Bouruku Ikuwale~

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Another beautiful, thoughtful post! This passage especially caught my eye:

"Working in Indian country, I often witness beauty between fathers and their children. History and the media would have us believe that Native and African fathers are toxic, but I know differently."

That knowing differently is why we need this community on ACEs Connection and why we need this conversation throughout this trauma-informed movement. Thank you for doing this work! And sharing it with us. 

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