Thoughts Concerning the Fourth of July

Yesterday I was grumpy. It took me a while to figure out what might be going on: The Fourth of July! This is one of those holidays, along with Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, I struggle with. My father struggled with it as well, although, the truth be known, he seemed to love Thanksgiving. Indeed, many Native people have very complex, often humorous and contradictory, experiences of the holiday. We participate in parades, hold pow wows, and acknowledge the patriotism of our people. We are also reminded of our collective experience of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Continue reading

Microaggression, Erasure, and Genocide

Recently I read a post by  Native Appropriations about the usurpation of Native tribal identities by European-Americans in California. Near the end of the piece she wrote:

“People often argue that there is nothing wrong with playing Indian –that dressing up or donning headdresses does no harm. I find it hard to imagine that someone could watch that video and think that a young Native child encountering that scene would walk away unscathed.”

These seemingly innocuous insults to Self and culture are sometimes called “microaggressions“. Micro-aggressions are subtle attacks on a person or group, assaults that undermine confidence and selfhood. They occur in families, workplaces, and the larger social environment. They are aimed at the perceived other, including spouses, persons with disabilities, and ethnic and racial minorities.  Often they are actions quite difficult to read as aggression, and are easily justified or reinterpreted by the person who originates the attack. Taken as an aggregate, microaggressions are immensely destructive over time. Continue reading

Responsibility, Reparation, and Forgiveness

I often work with couples and families, and inevitably, they bring hurts to heal in our work together. The work of healing includes finding stories that allow for forgiveness without requiring  forgetting.

A couple of weeks ago I chanced upon a blog post by Practical Narrative Therapy. The post was a discussion of forgiveness and story in narrative practice, and said in part: Continue reading

Shaman’s Paradox

After writing the last post, I began to think about how difficult the English language can be to use when one wants to speak about paradox. English is a great technical language because it is very concrete: there is right and wrong, black and white. Ambiguity is present, but generally ignored. But English may not be the best language to use when speaking about our complex, process driven, ambiguous experiences and world.

That said, I use English to write my thoughts in this blog. So here goes:

Shamans everywhere know the world is just fine the way it is, in this moment. I’m fine. You’re fine. Things are blissful. The world is magic. Continue reading