Center for American Indian Resilience

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Surviving and
keeping life in
balance
CAIR Conference. Tucson, AZ 8/7/2013
More attention given to acknowledging Native
Peoples’ resiliency
Defining resilience
Resilience
“[We are like a] blade of grass. When
stepped on, it bounces back and
suggests that there’s a strong inner
core there that allows families to carry
on [with the] stresses of life that come
to everyone.”
Goodluck, C. and Willeto, A. A. (2009). Seeing the Protective Rainbow: How
Families Survive and Thrive in the American Indian and Alaska Native Community.
Annie E. Casey Foundation. Page 1.
Visible signs of Native resiliency
Familial signs of resiliency through teaching
and maintaining cultural traditions
A history of Native resilience in
face of many forced changes
Being different and seeing its value
What does academia tell
us about American Indian
resilience?
“Allow us to remain
Native”
Looking for protective factors: The
family study
*A SENSE OF BELONGING/BEING OF VALUE
a name, a member of family, member of a clan
*RELIGION/SPIRITUALITY
a belief in a greater power & having access to that power
through ceremonial , prayer, etc.
*LANGUAGE
to utilize the right words (traditional prayers/songs) to
relieve stress or disharmony
*
Goodluck C. & A.A.A. Willeto. (2009). Seeing the Protective Rainbow. The Annie E.
Casey Foundation.
Continued:
*EXTENDED FAMILY/FRIENDS
to call on during times of need
*MAINTAINING CULTURAL-BASED PRACTICES,
KNOWLEDGE, & SKILLS
that which has cultural meaning and creativity
*HUMOR
ability not to take life so seriously
Goodluck C. & A.A.A. Willeto. (2009). Seeing the Protective Rainbow.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Resilience and successful aging
Found those with high levels of resiliency from a
cross-sectional study of 185 native elders
*greater social engagement
*higher optimism
*Stronger physical strength
*higher level of functional independence
Schure MB, et al., The Association of Resilience with Mental and Physical Health among
Older American Indians: The Native Elder Care Study. American Indian and Alaska Native
Mental Health Research. www.ucdenver.edu/cai-anh.
Native Elder Care Study
Elder with high levels of resilience :
*had lower levels of depression and chronic pain
*reported higher levels of mental and physical
health
*compared to women, men showed stronger
inheritable resilience
*Researchers suggest resilience training to help improve diabetes
self-management for Native elders
Schure MB, et al., The Association of Resilience with Mental and Physical Health among Older
American Indians: The Native Elder Care Study. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental
Health Research. www.ucdenver.edu/cai-anh.
Traditional cultural factors
Help foster resilience:
* Spirituality
* Mental well-being
* Emotional well-being
* Physical well-being
HeavyRunner, I. and Morris, J.S. (1997).Traditional native culture and resilience.
Research Practice, 5(1). MN: University of Minnesota. Center for Applied Research
& Educational Improvement.
http://www.coled.umn.edu/carei/Reports/Rpractice/Spring97/traditional.htm.
Youth: examining self-esteem
Youth with high self-esteem:
*know they belong, are loved & cared for by
their family
*are gaining mastery or confidence through
observation, imitation, having role model, etc.
*have opportunities and encouragement to develop
independence
*are taught and encouraged to be generous,
respectful
Brendtro, L., Brokenleg, M. and Van Bockern, S. (1990). Reclaiming youth at
risk: Our hope for the future. Bloomington, IN: National Education Service.
Unstable Family Environment
Risk factors for youth:
*did not have strong connection to their
families
*did not feel they were understood,
loved, wanted, or received attention
*more likely to have access to guns,
tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs
*knew someone who had attempted or
committed suicide in the preceding
year
Blum , RW and Rinehart, PM (1997). Reducing the risk: Connections that
make a difference in the lives of youth. Bethesda, MD: ERIC Document
Reproduction Service No. ED 412 459.
Resilient Students
*Believed they had good qualities
*Liked themselves
*Felt loved and wanted
*Believed that spirituality, religion,
and prayers were important
*Were doing well academically
*
Blum , RW and Rinehart, PM (1997). Reducing the risk: Connections that make a difference
in the lives of youth. Bethesda, MD: ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 412 459.
Adolescents’ view of school
*Felt teachers treated students fairly
*Felt close to people at school
*Said they got along with teachers &
other students
*Felt their fellow students were not
prejudiced
Blum , RW and Rhinehart, PM (1997). Reducing the risk: Connections
that make a difference in the lives of youth. Bethesda, MD: ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 412 459.
A supportive school environment
*Had high daily attendance
*Strong parent-teacher organizations
*Low dropout rates
*High percentage of teachers with
master’s degrees or above
*High percentage of college bound
students
Blum , RW and Rinehart, PM (1997). Reducing the risk: Connections
that make a difference in the lives of youth. Bethesda, MD: ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 412 459.
What does American Culture
tell us about resilience?
*Do not let what you can do interfere
with what you can do
*Problems are not stop signs, they’re
guidelines
*Our greatest glory is not in never
failing, but in rising every time
we fall
*Behold the turtle, he only makes
progress when he sticks his neck
out.
The longstanding star of resiliency
Wiley E. Coyote
Egotistical and confident: the
resiliency character of Coyote
He never gives up, at any cost
And he resolves to try a new way again
and again
In the end, he appears to come up
with a meaningful resolution
Challenges in studying resilience
Our understanding (through research) on
resiliency and native peoples is confounded by
tribal/ethnic diversity
Tools used to measure resiliency are not always
appropriate
Rapid and ongoing cultural change are not easily
delineated
The experiences of poverty, discrimination, and
other factors become factors that are hard to isolate
or explain
Global impact on personal identity:
among the many challenges
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