July 29, 2021 –
Native people define spirituality as central to their culture and traditions. Spirituality, culture, and healing ceremonies not only reinforce the core beliefs of tribal life but also restore personal balance when life stressors threaten to overwhelm. The COVID-19 pandemic added enormous anxiety and fear into many tribal communities. Tribal health care providers needed to assume expanded and urgent responsibilities, and physical isolation of tribal community members meant that they were cut off from their traditional gatherings, dances, and ceremonies. Many tribal families lost relatives and friends to COVID-19, or other tragedies, which brought new levels of grief to our communities.
We are now beginning to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and many Native people are taking stock of the past 15 months of physical separation and emotional strain. This discussion with Native spiritual and cultural leaders provides an opportunity to applaud the bravery of our health care providers and community members, and to discuss how Native spirituality can support our ability to regain our health and balance. For many, Native spirituality can be a potential antidote that minimizes the consequences of anxiety, fear, depression, and other stresses caused during the coronavirus crisis.
Please join this lunch-time conversation, which will offer comfort and a safe space to talk about Native spiritual beliefs, resilience, and the ability to cope. Participants will appreciate the reassuring messages and Native videos which illustrate the strengths and resilience of tribal people. This session will focus on the perspective of local tribal leaders. The conversation will be facilitated by Holly Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), a member of the New England Mental Health Technology Transfer Center team.