Music Therapy Offers Healing to Tulalip-Marysville Community

 

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

The Snohomish County Music Project is using music as a tool to strengthen the Tulalip and Marysville community. With over fifteen programs, the Music Project has dedicated their time to improving the mental well being of Snohomish County community members through music therapy.  The Marysville School District originally reached out to the Snohomish County Music project when looking for alternative therapy for children who have experienced trauma in their young lives. Music Therapy is now offered to many schools in the Marysville School District including, Marysville-Pilchuck, Quil Ceda Elementary, and Marysville Arts and Technology.

 

 

Quil Ceda Elementary student, Oliver walked into a spare room of his school’s library wearing a visibly huge smile. As he took his seat, Music Therapist Victoria Fansler handed him a stack of cards. Each card displayed a cartoon making facial expressions with the corresponding emotion (i.e. happy or sad) written in text beneath the cartoon face. As his instructor retrieved her guitar from its case, Oliver examined the cards. Once he picked two cards out of the deck, Victoria began strumming her guitar to an interactive welcoming song between teacher and student, pausing only for Oliver to respond to questions within Victoria’s lyrics. When her song reached the question ‘how are you feeling today?’ he revealed the cards he had chosen, excited, because he was in Music Therapy class and upset because his aunt postponed her visit with him until the weekend.

This warm-up exercise allows the student to express their emotions and presents them with the opportunity to explain why they are feeling those emotions. Victoria begins each of her sessions with this exercise as the majority of her students from the Marysville and Tulalip community happily sing along. At the end of each session she remixes the welcome song to recap the session and say ‘goodbye until next week’.

Tulalip Cares Charitable Contributions recently funded Victoria’s music therapy program through the Snohomish County Music Project. She is currently working full time in the Tulalip-Marysville community helping students work through traumatic life events by using music as an instrument of healing.

Countless studies have shown that music therapy has assisted many victims of trauma. While focusing on music individuals are able to relax, therefore reducing stress and anxiety levels. Music therapy provides an outlet for individuals to express their emotions creatively.

Victoria also provides services to the Betty J. Taylor Early Learning Academy once a week and works primarily with students who are currently, or have previously been, involved with Child Protective Services or beda?chelh.  In cases of neglect, children are sometimes unaware of social cues, such as facial expressions and vocal tones. For this reason, Victoria incorporates mirroring into her lesson plans, to help the children at the academy recognize emotions that others display.

 

 

In elementary schools, Victoria teaches the children how to express their emotions through music. Oliver, for example, is a huge Eminem fan. In his individual session Oliver wrote down and illustrated everything that makes him feel safe as well as his fears. While working on the assignment a Bluetooth speaker played a cover, performed by kid YouTube sensation Sparsh Shah, of Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid’. Oliver is familiar with the Eminem song and because of the tools music therapy has provided him, he was able to write his own lyrics to the track. Oliver said that those particular lyrics that he wrote are in memory of his little brother who passed away when they were both at a young age.

Aside from her acoustic guitar, Victoria uses a variety of instruments in her sessions including a melodica. The free-reed instrument is essentially a keyboard that requires users to blow air into it for sound output, much like a wind instrument.

“A lot of people suggest meditation and focused breathing for children with trauma, but I found that sometimes it can be hard trying to convince kids that sitting still and breathing quietly will help them feel better. The Melodica is really engaging, if you hold a long exhale breath it makes a really pleasant sound that lets you explore the keys and get creative while playing it. This helps build self-awareness so the kids can feel comfortable self-expressing musically and recognizing what tools they already have within themselves,” Victoria states.

Another instrument that assists with trauma recovery is the drum.  Victoria explains, “We use a lot of rhythm because we know, neurologically, what trauma does to the brain. For example, when we have a flashback and trauma is overtaking the mind and body, the part of the brain that tells you what time and place you’re in, basically shuts off. With rhythm and drumbeats it forces us to engage in the present moment, our brains can’t help but track how fast the beat is going. We call that entrainment. It keeps us from being stuck in the past with our traumatic memories and how they might make us feel. Through entrainment we help our clients realize that although a traumatic event occurred, it is in the past and it is not going to hijack their brain at any given moment anymore.”

The Snohomish Music Project offers a variety of programs countywide including music therapy services for infants, children, teens, Veterans suffering with posttraumatic stress disorder, as well as senior citizens suffering with memory-related illnesses. The non-profit’s headquarters is located at the Everett Mall and hosts live music performances weekly.  Since 2010 the Snohomish County Project, previously known as the Everett Symphony, has refocused their time and energy to help heal and strengthen communities.

“Rather than using music as tool to provide performances, we have transformed and provide a way to use music as a tool to help community members thrive and to help make impactful changes in the community. We are able to help individuals better themselves and they in turn become positive contributors to our community,” states Snohomish County Music Project Director, Vasheti Quiros.

Victoria is making a positive impact in the community through music therapy and because of its popularity and high demand, (she has over twenty kids on a waiting list at the early learning academy) Victoria hopes to expand her program and open services to the entire Tulalip community.  She currently is in talks with Youth Services about hiring youth of the community, with hopes of training them to become music therapists.

For additional information about the Snohomish County Music Project please visit their website www.scmusicproject.org

Gayle Jones provides spiritual healing and guidance 

Gayle Jones.

Gayle Jones.

 

 

by Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Tulalip member Gayle Jones has worked for the tribe for 36 years. The first 32 years of her career she worked with Family Services in various positions, namely Clinical Supervisor and Chemical Dependency Counselor. In recent years, Gayle has taken on a new opportunity where she is able to help the people of her community on an entirely new level.

“It’s all from the spirit, it’s a gift,” states Gayle. Her new position as Spiritual Counselor with the Domestic Violence Program provides her the opportunity of doing what she is most passionate about, helping people who lost their way to find their path again.

“I always grew up around the Shaker religion because my grandpa and auntie were Shakers,” said Gayle, who at 15 years old had a friend invite her to join the Shaker Church. She decided to give it a chance and while in attendance she was so frightened, she left. “I was spooked, my auntie was shaking on me. I was scared I ran away.”

In her twenties, Gayle was still finding her footing in life. During those years of self-discovery, like many young adults, she experimented with alcohol. This turned into addiction. She struggled with that alcohol addiction until age 29, when she decided she needed spiritual healing and made a life change by getting sober and finding her faith again.

The Spiritual Counselor position sees Gayle assisting the entire community of Tulalip. She conducts cleansings and prayers at events as well as individual counseling and home visits. While working on people, she remains respectful of the individual’s personal beliefs. “On home visits, I tell people to pray to who they believe in. I am not here to force anything onto anybody. I am not a priest; I am a human”

When requested Gayle will often travel to hospitals to assist those who need spiritual support. “I pray for them and their families and ask for their strength and health.”

Part of the service that Gayle provides is candle-work. “It’s a blessing. The light of the candle is the light of the spirit, of who you believe in. For me personally, it’s God. The light of the spirit cleanses everything; I am only an instrument,” she explained. The cleansing practice uses a lit candle as a tool, much like cedar branches, to remove negative energy from a person’s aura while simultaneously providing relief and balance to their lives.

“A lot of it is getting rid of stress. People are like magnets, they carry stress from work and a lot of grief too. I can get all that off of them,” she explained. Gayle ultimately wants people who are struggling to know that it gets better. She is working to heal the community, one request at a time, by providing spiritual counseling and guidance.

She says, “Knowing there’s hope out there that’s a huge part of [recovery]. Somebody helped me when I was going through all of it. Somebody grabbed my hand, was there for me and said ‘Come on girl get it together.’ So, that’s what I’m doing in return. All of my chemical dependency work and all of my spiritual work is to make people feel better.”

For more information, contact Gayle Jones at 360-716-4981.

Seattle Continues Healing ‘Deep Wounds’ With Boarding School Resolution

Museum of History & Industry, Seattle; All Rights ReservedStarting in the middle of the 19th century, church groups and the U.S. government set up boarding schools for Natives. Here, children from many tribes were taught how to speak English and how to make a living. They were separated from their elders, and were discouraged from learning tribal traditions and language. This photo by U.P. Hadley shows the buildings and students at the Industrial Boarding School on the Puyallup Reservation between 1880 and 1889. The school opened in 1860. During the 1880s, a number of new buildings were added, and the school grew from 125 to about 200 students.

Museum of History & Industry, Seattle; All Rights Reserved
Starting in the middle of the 19th century, church groups and the U.S. government set up boarding schools for Natives. Here, children from many tribes were taught how to speak English and how to make a living. They were separated from their elders, and were discouraged from learning tribal traditions and language. This photo by U.P. Hadley shows the buildings and students at the Industrial Boarding School on the Puyallup Reservation between 1880 and 1889. The school opened in 1860. During the 1880s, a number of new buildings were added, and the school grew from 125 to about 200 students.

 

By Richard Walker, Indian Country Today, 10/20/15

 

“If it be admitted that education affords the true solution to the Indian problem, then it must be admitted that the boarding school is the very key to the situation,” Indian School Superintendent John B. Riley wrote in an 1886 reportto the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

“Only by complete isolation of the Indian child from his savage antecedents can he be satisfactorily educated.”

Such was the prevailing attitude of Indian Affairs agents during the federal boarding-school era: That America’s First Peoples were a problem to be dealt with, that America’s Manifest Destiny required Indigenous Peoples to be remolded and assimilated into the mainstream—even if it meant forcibly removing children from their families.

It wasn’t until 1978—118 years after the establishment of the first American Indian boarding school—that Native American parents gained the legal right, with the passing of the Indian Child Welfare Act, to deny their children’s placement in off-reservation schools.

“Some Native American parents saw boarding school education for what it was intended to be—the total destruction of Indian culture,” the American Indian Relief Council reported on its website. “Resentment of the boarding schools was most severe because the schools broke the most sacred and fundamental of all human ties, the parent-child bond.”

On October 12, council members in one of the largest cities in the U.S. took a step toward helping to heal the wounds from the boarding school era.

The City Council of Seattle, Washington, approved a resolution“acknowledging the various harms and ongoing historical and inter-generational traumas impacting American Indian, First Nations, and Alaskan Natives for the forcible removal of Indian children and subsequent abuse and neglect resulting from the United States’ American Indian Boarding School Policy during the 19th and 20th Centuries …”

The resolution calls on the United States to examine its human rights record and to work with American Indian and Alaskan Native peoples “in efforts of reconciliation in addressing the impacts of historical trauma, language and cultural loss, and alleged genocide.”

“The supposed goal [of the boarding schools] was to ‘Kill the Indian, save the man,’ which is tantamount to cultural genocide,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant told LastRealIndians.com. “The resolution will give city officials the opportunity to acknowledge and help heal the deep wounds opened up by the boarding school policy. It is also another step toward getting the city to take real action to address the poverty, oppression, and marginalization that the community faces to this day.”

The resolution was drafted by Matt Remle, Lakota, with support from Seattle lawyer Gabe Galanda, Round Valley Indian Tribes; Seattle Arts Commissioner Tracy Rector, Seminole; the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition; the Native American Rights Fund, and other members of Seattle’s Native community. The resolution was sponsored legislatively by Sawant.

The resolution vote took place on Seattle’s second annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The day included a rally and march to Seattle City Hall, drumming and songs, a keynote address by Winona LaDuke, Ojibwe, and a celebration at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.

During the boarding school era, “roughly 100,000 American Indian children ages 5-18 were stripped from their homes and placed in remote boarding schools,” Remle wrote on LastRealIndians.com. “Native languages, spirituality and customs were outlawed, physical and sexual violence was rampant.”

It’s a subject known all too well by the First Peoples of the Seattle area. Seattle, named for the mid-1800s leader of the Duwamish and Suquamish peoples, is the largest city in a state with 29 federally recognized Native nations. The first American Indian boarding school in the United States was established at the Yakama Nation in eastern Washington in 1860; the Tulalip Mission School, operated by the Catholic Church, was established three years earlier and was the first contract school for Native American children.

In her book, Tulalip, From My Heart, Harriette Shelton Dover (1904-1991) wrote of harsh discipline, poor diet and inadequate care, of tuberculosis and pneumonia and childhood deaths.

RELATED: From the Heart: Tulalip History and Memoir Is a Walk Back in Time

Helma Ward, Makah, told Carolyn J. Marr, an anthropologist and photographs librarian at the Museum of History and Industryin Seattle, “Two of our girls ran away … but they got caught. They tied their legs up, tied their hands behind their backs, put them in the middle of the hallway so that if they fell, fell asleep or something, the matron would hear them and she’d get out there and whip them and make them stand up again.”

“They were not allowed to speak their language there,” Inez Bill, Tulalip, told KING 5 News, Seattle, of her grandparents’ boarding school experience. “When you lose your language, you lose your culture. It left our people scarred.”

Fast forward to today: The children and grandchildren of those who were forced to attend boarding schools and were banned from speaking their languages have taken control of their own children’s education, are showing that their culture has an important role in education and that it can build bridges of understanding in communities.

Almost 65,000 students in Washington identify as Native American or Alaskan Native, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. OSPI’s Office of Native Education was created in the mid-1960s to help Native students achieve their education goals and meet state standards. The office provides resources and training to help educators and families meet the needs of Native students, builds curriculum in Native languages and about Native culture and history, and works to increase the number of Native educators.

Eight Native nations operate their own schools in Washington, according to the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. School districts near reservations have liaisons to the Native American community and/or partnerships with a local Native nation’s education department. Earlier this year, the state legislature mandated the inclusion of Native American history, culture and governance in the curriculum of local public schools.

During its heyday, the American Indian Heritage Early College High School in Seattle had a 100 percent graduation rate, and all graduates went on to college. The Urban Native Education Alliance is lobbying to have the school reestablished in the new Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, named for the late principal of Indian Heritage and under construction at the site of the former school.

The Suquamish Tribe operates and funds Chief Kitsap Academy, a high-tech, culturally based high school that is part of the Early College High School network. According to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, only four of 10 of North Kitsap School District schools and programs met Adequate Yearly Progress goals in reading and math proficiency in 2014—one of those was Chief Kitsap Academy. Students use the latest technology, but are also exposed to cultural teachings and study the Lushootseed language. The school is open to Native and non-Native students.

Northwest Indian Collegehas grown from a school of aquaculture to a four-year college with six satellite campuses in two states. It offers four undergraduate degrees, nine associate’s degrees, three certificate programs, and five other study programs. The University of Washingtonand The Evergreen State Collegehave longhouses that serve as places of gathering and sharing as well as teaching.

 

A totem at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington. (Google Plus/NWIC)
A totem at Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Washington. (Google Plus/NWIC)

 

Eaonhawinon Patricia Allen, a University of Washington graduate and community organizer in Seattle, spoke at Seattle City Hall before the City Council’s vote. She later wrote on LastRealIndians.comthat the boarding school era “was one of the last actions made to complete colonization and … to wash the Native identity out of Natives. But I am here to tell you this, and so will my future children: We still survived and are starting the process of healing.”

Canada established a Truth and Reconciliation Commissionto prepare a complete historical record on the policies and operations of residential schools; complete a public report, including recommendations to the parties of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement; and establish a national research center that will be a lasting resource about the Indian Residential Schools legacy in Canada. The commission is reaching out to the public in national and community events, and honoring residential schools survivors in a lasting manner. It is also examining the number and cause of deaths, illnesses, and disappearances of children, and documenting the location of burial sites.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/10/20/seattle-continues-healing-deep-wounds-boarding-school-resolution-162138

Tulalip Healing: Understanding historical trauma in a Native context

 

By Kara Briggs Campbell, Special to Tulalip News 

Pam James often says that she carries her grandmother’s pain.

“She was born in 1899 on theColville Reservation and she was taken away and put in a boarding school in eastern Montana,” James says as she begins a story familiar in her tribal family.

Her grandmother’s longing and loneliness were transmitted to James as a girl listening attentively to the family story. Researchers and counselors, like James, say trauma can be passed between generations in more than one way. Oral histories may be the most obvious way, but researchers say traumatic memories get recorded in our brains, and pass into cellular memory which we share from one generation with the next, and the next.

In the 1980s the terms historical trauma or intergenerational trauma were coined. This condition has been documented in groups that include the descendants of Holocaust survivors, descendants of survivors of Japanese Internment and of the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.

James, a counselor turned consultant who has taught groups about historical trauma for three decades, said historical trauma is a critical aspect of the American Indian experience today. It flares up when contemporary traumas trigger deeper known and unknown emotional wounds. It’s the extra weight of history that some people seem to carry in their psyches. It is a feeling of profound disempowerment.

“Historically, what have we learned after 500 years of cultural oppression? Through wars, epidemics, boarding schools, removal of children from families, removal of families from traditional lands, substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse – we have become in many cases the oppressors. We see these things acted out today across Indian Country,” said James, who lives near the Skokomish Reservation. “We may not have the awareness of why, but we continue to pass the pain of our experiences from generation to generation.”

Shame, blame and an abiding sense of guilt are driving forces of historical trauma. Guilt for hidden things, even for half forgotten things, for things lost to memory and time.

Historical trauma manifests publically in tribal communities in ways that include family against family, a sense of who belongs and who doesn’t, who looks Indian, who doesn’t, James said. A tribal community may even be continuing such attitudes and practices without realizing or understanding that they come from the experiences of families and ancestors, some even in the colonial era long before we were born.

“A lot of those things impact ourselves and our children because of things that happened hundreds of years ago and that we keep passing from generation to generation. Without the realization, awareness or healing, we will self-destruct from within,” James said.

What does self-destruction look like? Overdoses, addiction, suicide, dropping out, tuning out, giving up. The impacts of historical trauma can go other ways too. They can manifest behaviorally as overachievers, control freaks or people who deny their emotions. For the most part survivors of historical trauma act out these behaviors without realizing that they may be tied to the experiences of their ancestors.

“In intergenerational trauma, each generation has an impact,” said Delores Subia BigFoot, who is director of the Indian Country Child Trauma Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. “Those that have been most impacted feel greater level of disempowerment as these layers of experience get added with each generation.”

James and BigFoot agree, Native people begin the healing process when they break the cycle of trauma through awareness. Or consider this: one generation can change the trajectory of a family or a whole tribal community. And in terms of the seventh generation, healing that begins today is very important.

Healing intergenerational trauma, as well as contemporary trauma, requires healing the whole person. Counseling and treatment work to a point. Deeper healing, James said, comes from reclaiming Native cultural identity and understanding traditional and family history. For James, the medicine wheel reminds us that healing the whole person includes spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical.

“In our traditional ways of being we had cultural practices that brought us together to heal our wounds of the past and present,” James said. “Even when I was kid growing up we would come together and share stories of our family, our community, and our tribe telling our history and so forth. Everyone had their role in the community, grandmas and grandpas, aunties and uncles. We shared common family/community beliefs, values and experiences. You were learning your relationship to all things and your place in the world.”

Also within the oral histories of tribes – whether carried in words and written in our cellular memory in our bodies – there is a steady stream of health and resiliency that enabled tribal ancestors to survive their trauma.

“The reality is that the ancestors were resilient who survived to give you life,” James said. “The resiliency of who we are as a people speaks loudly to our ability to overcome trauma.”

 

 

What does it mean to be an Indian?

 

Pam James was working with tribal youth in the Puget Sound area when she asked a simple question: What makes you Indian?

“I was so surprised by the responses,” James said. “Some of them said, I don’t know. Others said because I was born here. Others said because I’m enrolled.”

“What I realized from those conversations is we aren’t teaching the young generations what makes them an Indian so they are conceptualizing what an Indian is in different ways than older generations do,” she said.

In terms of historical trauma, she wonders, are we teaching our youth those issues they need to understand to withstand the pressure?

So James researched and created the list below, which she shares when she presents at regional and national Native conferences about historical trauma. Her list is based upon the thinking of many tribal peoples and it reflects the traditional and cultural elements that make up a tribe or a village.

It may be a starting point for a conversation in a family or among friends.

 

What makes you an Indian?

 

Geographic Land Base – Living, Gathering, Hunting, Tools & Implements

Medicines and Foods – Plants, Animals, and the Preparation Process

Traditional Dress – Design, Creation, and Materials used

Common Language – Shared Dialect, Verbal, Body, Sign, Writings, Art

History and Stories – Creation, Oral/Visual Stories, Teachings, Roles & Responsibilities

Traditional Cultural Structure – Beliefs, Values, Ethics, Traditional & Legal Governance, Family, Relationships to All Things

Spiritual – Beliefs, Practice, Ceremonies, Songs, Music, Laughter

 

 

Tulalip Healing: Exhaling the Pain

By Kara Briggs Campbell, Tulalip News

When people talk about trauma recovery, they often talk about mental health counseling.

While this is important for many, there are also others ways to approach healing that are complimentary to counseling and help people to maintain balance amid painful times.

Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder and director of the Trauma Stewardship Institute, reminds us that trauma requires processing, or metabolizing. The trauma may be felt by a community after a senseless, horrific school shooting, or may be any of the other ways that families or individuals come to loss and grief.

Some of the questions that Lipsky asks include, “What is one’s ability to metabolize the trauma we are bearing witness to? And, if someone finds wave after wave crashing down on them, have conditions been created to help them to metabolize?”

Finding ways to cope or metabolize with trauma is important because trauma is all around us. But so are practices and techniques for processing healing from trauma and grief.

In her book “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others,” Lipsky helps people to think about how to cope with the cumulative impact of ongoing exposure to heartbreak.

“There are a lot of people who will say, ‘I am not open to going to counseling, for whatever reason,” Lipsky said. “There aren’t a lot of people, however, who will argue with the benefit of exercising. People have far fewer barriers to the idea of exercising than what they think of as mental health counseling.”

One of the primary things people need to know, whether they are getting counseling or pursuing an alternative-healing path, is you are not alone.

She wants to encourage people to talk with someone about what they are feeling. And f the first counselor or friend you try to talk with doesn’t feel helpful, she said, keep looking for another person with whom you can connect. You might ultimately connect with a counselor but it could also be a cultural leader, a minister, a friend, or a therapy dog.

“Find someone to connect with who can remind you that you are not alone,” Lipsky said.

The next thing she advises is to find a way to engage with your breathing. Many indigenous communities have profound breath work practices that could include singing, dancing, or paddling a canoe. Many studies have found that physical activity helps people, including children, to recover from trauma.  Exercising is one of the most effective, most efficient and most accessible ways to help one’s body and spirit sustain.

“Unless you are medically advised not to, we find there is great benefit to folks elevating their heart rate and breaking a sweat,” she said. “Some people can even hearken back to their ancestors’ ways of engaging breath that allow you to metabolize everything you have experienced.”

In the United States, overall, we are part of a mainstream culture that doesn’t support one’s need to intentionally and mindfully move through your trauma and grief. As a result, many people around us are hemorrhaging unprocessed feelings.

Some signs that you’re a hemorrhaging your trauma may seem like little things. You don’t let people merge in front of you on the freeway, or you find yourself screaming at your cat, or you are sobbing at a funny movie. Often whatever you find to eat, drink or inhale that keeps you numb is merely temporarily distracting from your grief, she said.

“We know it is very, very scary to feel deeply,” Lipsky said. “It is very uncomfortable. We also know it is unsustainable to not feel.”

“One common way that we distance ourselves form our feelings is to bring something on board like caffeine, sugar, nicotine, highly processed foods, alcohol or drugs, she said. “Or you are dis-integrating  your mind, body and soul in some other way. The toll of not feeling can be extraordinary.”

Tulalip healing – intervening on youth trauma

By Kara Briggs-Campbell, Tulalip News 

“I love you too much to let you hurt yourself,” Robert Macy, a psychologist who works international trauma relief, said as he talked to the Tulalip tribal community about how to interrupt the thoughts of a youth who is considering killing themselves.

Macy, who is president of the International Trauma Center in Boston, met Thursday, December 4 with tribal member families, tribal staff and staff from area schools, to share techniques of traumatic incident stress interventions. Macy and a team of 100 specialists have worked in communities worldwide after natural disasters, terrorist acts and violent events.

Any effort to bring healing to the trauma that the Tulalip community feels will be built upon a combination of “Western medical practice, international tribal techniques for healing, and Tulalip’s own creativity and ingenuity,” Macy said.

At Macy’s request, no names or direct quotes from those who participated in sessions on Thursday will be shared in this article. Macy made this request out of concern that tribal members and staff be able to speak freely about their concerns in a confidential setting. Instead, the focus of this article is on Macy’s techniques for treating youth in trauma and helping communities with a history of trauma.

“After a traumatic event, your body goes into a higher level of adrenaline to absorb the shock,” he said. “Your adrenaline in this community was elevated for several weeks with the deaths and funerals.”

Your body’s emergency response to a threat is a good thing when there is a threat, but it’s a problem when the danger is gone and the child or adult can’t calm down to go to sleep or go to school or work. This is a sign that the nervous system is flooded with chemicals that keep you on edge and don’t let you calm down.

In this state of trauma, a fishnet, speaking figuratively, must be unfurled to catch every youth and every child who is reeling from the unexplainable and unimaginable events of the past weeks, or the past months and years when other violent traumatic events impacted the tribal community.

“We don’t look for the kids who look like they are the ones in trouble,” Macy said. “We look at all the kids.”

To do this, Macy’s groups works with the community to create and train teams of community members, “from the bus driver to the bartender,” and from the mental health staff to the parents, to intervene with kids and cope with conversation.

It begins with, are you thinking of hurting yourself?  “I say to teens, don’t go into that dark corner, don’t go in there alone. Don’t let the light go out,” he said. “I love you too much to let you hurt yourself. The elders love you too much. Invoke the tribe. The tribe loves you too much to let you hurt yourself.”

With youth who are considering suicide, Macy said, “They are thinking, ‘I am dirty and disgusting. The world will be a better place without me.’” Amid those thoughts, suicide might seem to be the only option for some. The intervention is that there are more options.

At the same time, Macy advised that the Tulalip community agree and communicate that suicide is not only a bad choice, but it is also a taboo that is unacceptable in this community, he said.

For parents and trusted adults, he said it is important to find out what your kid really cares about, what matters the most to them. To do this requires the adult to come to a non-judgmental place of compassion and calm, because what the kid shares might be revolting to you. But finding this out will make a bridge that will help you reach your child, he said.

Some youth may need hospitalization, some may need medicine, and many others simply need outpatient counseling, programs and community engagement. The good news is that trauma is highly treatable as long as it isn’t suppressed and silenced.

“Trauma that is silenced will end in violence,” Macy said.

No decisions have been made by the Tulalip Tribes about what the next steps will be.

Macy said the important thing is to look at the strengths the Tulalip community has, including the resiliency of the Tulalip ancestors, the loving tribal children and parents, and the Tulalip community that is committed to finding a path to healing.

 

Where to call for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

The Tulalip Tribes’ Behavioral Health Family Services has worked tirelessly since the tragic shooting on Oct. 24 to provide mental wellness to anyone in the tribal community who needs help. Behavioral Health also knows that in crisis, people need help around the clock. Here is a list of the phone numbers with descriptions about the focus of each crisis line.

To report an emergency dial 911

On the Tulalip Reservation and in Marysville, our 9-1-1 calls are answered by SNOPAC, a regional public safety communications center that receives law enforcement, fire and medical 9-1-1 calls for 37 different Snohomish County jurisdictions. It’s staff of “highly trained and dedicated professionals are available 24x7x365,” as stated on SNOPAC’s website. SNOPAC’s Core Values are Integrity, Respect, Professionalism and Teamwork. Learn more at http://www.snopac911.us/.

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The National Suicide Prevention Line, http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/, is a crisis center in the Lifeline Network. After you call, you will hear a message saying you have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Then you will hear hold music while your call is routed to a skilled, trained crisis worker who will listen to your problem. “No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling, you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.”

Snohomish County Crisis Line: 1-800-584-3578

The Snohomish County Crisis Line connects callers with a mental health clinician, who will provide emotional support and crisis intervention to individuals in crisis or considering suicide. In addition to the 24 Hour Crisis Line, an online chat also offers crisis services through Care Crisis Chat for those who prefer to access care via the Internet. Learn more at http://www.voaww.org/Get-Help/Behavioral-Health-Services – sthash.uKHLCR79.dpuf.

Crisis TEXT Line: Text “Listen” to 741-741

The Crisis TEXT Line, http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/, states, “Millions of teens are quietly suffering every day. They struggle with bullying, homophobia, suicidal thoughts and more. The solution is beautifully simple: We provide crisis intervention services to teens via a medium they already use and trust: text. And we use insights from our work to develop and share innovations in prevention, treatment, and long-term care.” It is a program of DoSomething.org, one of the largest non-profit organizations for young people and social change.

24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-866-427-4747

Based in King County, the Crisis Line provides crisis assistance. “We need to talk with you directly on the phone.  By talking with you anonymously and confidentially, we are best able to work with you to find help,” the Crisis Line states on its website, http://crisisclinic.org.

TEENLINK: 1-866-833-6546

Based in Seattle and open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly, TEENLINK puts teens in touch with professionally trained youth volunteers, ranging in age from 15 to 20. “If you need to talk, our volunteers are there to listen and help you find youth-friendly resources in our community,” the TEENLINK website states. About 10 percent of callers are considering suicide, the other 90 percent want to talk about topics such as relationships, problems at school, drugs and alcohol, self harm, grief and loss, dating violence, family problems, eating disorders, and much more. For more information visit, http://866teenlink.org/about-teen-link

Tulalip Healing—Families and Children this Holiday Season

By Kara Briggs Campbell, Tulalip News

TULALIP, Wash – The holidays will be different at the Tulalip Tribes this year.

Gratitude, an important part of any holiday season, is made more important because of the losses that have occurred since the Oct. 24 shooting at Marysville Pilchuck High School.

“I hold in my thoughts all the people who have their kids around the table, and the ones that have that empty seat in my thoughts,” said Leila Goldsmith, the director of the Tulalip Tribes’ Legacy of Healing Children’s Advocacy Center. “I hold mine a little closer because I think wouldn’t that mom want us to hold our kids closer.”

For children who seek care or are referred at the center, the recent events are raising questions as big as life and death, and wonders about how we will ever celebrate this holiday season without in a time of trauma and grief.

For families, Gurjeet Sidhu, a child therapist at the center, the most important thing that parents can do now for their children is to listen to them.

“Knowing where your child is can let you know if they are internalizing the tragedy negatively,” Sidhu said.

This could mean that child is wondering if they had prayed harder, of if they had checked on someone more, or could they have been nicer if they had only known this one or that one would be gone.

“Parents remind your kids that they couldn’t have done anything,” Sidhu said. “Tell them that they don’t control the world.”

In this season when every news flash potentially triggers more traumas in our community, the act of listening and hearing even a child’s non-verbal communication will be the best gift that parents and trusted adults can give.

And as children turn their attention to the holidays, the question that arises is, will it be the same this year?

Sidhu recommends, responding with a question, “What do you think?” Then listen.

“I haven’t heard any children say no to the holidays yet,” she said. “But I have heard kids saying I wish that this hadn’t happened.”

For younger kids, who still believe that Santa Claus will come and make everything right, parents need to be stronger and protect the magical thinking while the child still has it because, because, Sidhu said, we will all get to be adults soon enough.

“Personally, if your family has holiday rituals like gathering around the holiday dinner table keep that going so you keep the traumatic memory from attaching to the holiday,” Sidhu said.

The holiday traditions have a rhythm that can help keep everyone in the family engaged in the holiday even in hard times like these. You might not feel like it, but once you start decorating, baking cookies or whatever your tradition, the familiar activities will inspire you and your children.

“In times like these we need to talk with our children about our core values, our spiritual belief, our family traditions,” Sidhu said. “And then if you are a family that has a ritual of gathering at the dinner table, do it even more now.”

At a banquet that the Tulalip Tribes held last month for the first responders to the tragedy, Goldsmith heard people talk about the new normal now that these recent events have entered the history of the Tribes.

The young ones us are asking questions about how can they help the people around them, even as they are experiencing loss in a deeper way than maybe they ever have before.

Some children have shared with Sidhu that they cried two hours straight for everything that ever went bad, while others are feeling things that have happened even recently more deeply.

“My message is it’s OK to cry, totally OK. You aren’t going to stress out the adults around you because you are crying,” Sidhu said. “The children need to know now that, ‘you are loved and you are safe.’”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulalip Healing: Understanding Grief

By Kara Briggs-Campbell, Tulalip News

Grief is a natural human response to losses of all kinds.

The death of a beloved grandparent or an elder parent or a spouse after a long illness typically results in what psychologists call normal or uncomplicated grief. Psychologists say that violent tragedies or unexpected deaths such as occurred in the Tulalip and Marysville communities on Oct. 24 are more likely to result in what they call complicated grief.

In complicated grief a sense of sorrow for the injury and the loss of beautiful, young people may be mixed with feelings such as fear, anger, rage, guilt or a profound sadness and depression. And could be further infused with past hurts or disappointments, including unresolved grief from earlier deaths and traumas.

According to Tulalip Tribes mental health counselor Kay Feather many in the Tulalip tribal family are experiencing these types of mixed emotions as the days turn to weeks since the shooting and the funerals.

The Tulalip Tribes and other tribes across North America have ancient traditions for processing grief and loss that allow extended family and community to share the burden with the immediate family and friends.

In 1969 author Elizabeth Kübler Ross identified the stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are still recognizable, but psychologists say these are only a starting point to understanding the complex experience of grief.

“A person can get mad one minute, and the next minute they are crying, then they get comfort from someone and yet a minute later, they fall apart and say, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,’” said Dr. Dolores Subia BigFoot, director of the Indian Country Child Trauma Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

BigFoot said that part of the reaction in grief response is to assist the mind and body to not overstress and better cope with the enormity of the loss.

The feeling for an individual in grief might be that of having lost their moorings or the sense that this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen. For children whose parents died in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York, there was a sense that parents are supposed to come home after work, not die in an unthinkable act.

In our Tulalip and Marysville communities, some people are responding to the recent tragedy with anger. Experts say anger may be understandable, but is also a way to protect oneself from deeper, more raw emotions.

“Anger is a secondary emotion to primary emotions like fear, disappointment or sadness,” BigFoot said. “The way this works is the first emotions surface then are immediately replaced with this secondary emotion. This happens because the primary emotion is overwhelming to the person and it is easier for the person to deal with anger or to be angry than to become completely engulfed by feelings of unbelievable sorrow.”

Feeling the underlying emotions is not a bad thing; rather it leads a person toward a level of acceptance, of being able to return to life, said Tulalip Tribes mental health counselor Kay Feather.

In counseling sessions with people in grief, Feather compares grieving to waves in the ocean. The first wave is a tsunami of trauma. Every memory is a wave, and in time as grief is dealt with, the waves get smaller.

“Grief never goes away,” Feather said. “But it gets softer.”

In time, those who grieve can find a place of acceptance. Although people who survive loss know that nothing will ever be the same, there is a different way of living that is accepting and honors both those lost and those yet alive.

“We all have the capability to grow from tragedy,” BigFoot said. “We have the potential of incorporating our grief and loss into our experience and then turning it into something meaningful that we give to others.”

 

Where can I call for help?

  • To report an emergency dial 911
  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Snohomish County Crisis Line: 1-800-584-3578
  • Crisis TEXT Line: Text “Listen” to 741-741
  • 24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-866-427-4747
  • TEENLINK: 1-866-833-6546
  • Indian Country Child Trauma Center: 1-405-271-8858
  • Tulalip Tribes Behavioral Health Family Services: 360-716-4400

 

 

Tribe and district work to help heal the community

 

A wave of support offered in the wake of the MPHS shooting

 

Photo/Niki Cleary

Photo/Niki Cleary

 

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News 

Immediately following the MPHS shooting, crisis management teams from around the nation and local, mobilized. Cheri Lovre, Executive Director of the Crisis Management Institute was one of them. She specializes in helping communities deal with the aftermath of school shootings and similar tragedies. She spoke at a November 5th, trauma recovery working session between the Tulalip Tribes and the Marysville School District.

November 5th was the first day students at MPHS got back to a typical class schedule following the October 24th tragedy in which a Tulalip boy, Jaylen Fryberg, opened fire on his close friends in the cafeteria, killing 4 of them and himself. Lovre acknowledged that while it was the first regular school day, it will be a long time before anyone affected by the tragedy feels “normal.”

“I followed Jaylen’s schedule,” she said, explaining that she attended all of his scheduled classes. “We had kids in classes so they could see where the empty desks were, the rooms where Jaylen’s desk would be empty. That meant there were times during the day where I was a in a class with four empty desks.”

Acknowledging the loss and the range of emotions is important for teachers, students and even the community, Lovre explained. Right now, many people, adults and children, are still processing the event.

“The first day back we acknowledge it. We told the kids that we don’t have to move today. There was only one class that asked for a new seating chart. I’ve seen more chaos in schools where a child simply died in a car accident than we had in this school,” she said.

“They [the kids] need to see everything unchanged,” she described artifacts of the shooter as well as the victims, photos, school projects that might hang on the walls, even name tags that might be posted, “Taking it down is part of a process.”

For the first day back, the District had 30 grief counselors and therapy dogs at MPHS, and two grief counselors in each other district school. Counselors in the schools are just a piece of the total recovery effort, Lovre said. Much of the healing, or lack of healing will happen at home.

“Kids can only recover as much as the adults in their lives,” she pointed out. “We can’t expect our kids to behave in a way that is not modeled. I’ll say it again. Kids can only get as well as the adults around them.”

Providing overall community outreach and opportunities for the community to grieve and express emotions is one way to move forward after tragedy. The district, Lovre said, may look into greater outreach in order to help kids heal as much as possible.

“In other places one of the things we created were one-stop-shops where parents who needed counseling [also had access to other services],” she recalled. “IF a parent had an issue with food stamps, they could talk with someone at the school and deal with that issue at the same time.”

It’s important to provide wraparound services because as stress adds up, people are less able to deal with it. She also illustrated the types of behavior, including suicides, that current trauma might trigger.  Trauma can also cause learning disabilities, which for a senior in their final year of high school, can derail their graduation goals.

“About 25% of your students have passing thoughts or have attempted suicide,” Lovre said. “Anytime the world is de-stabilized, it bumps those kids a little closer. You end up with kids sleeping in class because they can’t sleep at night, then they don’t have enough credits to graduate. The biochemistry of trauma leaves us on-edge, irritable and easily provoked.”

Every district deals with these issues differently. Lovre explained that the fact that Marysville School District is having the conversations so early, is a positive sign.

When asked about the mixed emotional reactions, Lovre said there is no right or wrong way to deal with the shooting. Some people will react with anger, some with grief, some will have no reaction at all, or will block out the violent act and focus on what came before. Still others will pass from one emotional reaction to another depending on the day, or even the moment. All are common reactions and none are abnormal.

“We often, particularly with a suicide or murder, get stuck on that moment and forget how that person lived. Part of my message is that we need to acknowledge that we lost someone in the fabric of our community. We need to acknowledge that we loved him. Some of you are conflicted about how you feel about him, you loved him but you cannot fathom the event that he did. It’s important that we say out loud that we have both feelings.”
Lovre continued, “There’s a difference between moving on and moving forward. I think it’s a wonderful thing that no one has vandalized the memorials to Jaylen. We are still in the honeymoon stage [of the crisis response]. But we’ll be tipping over that hill soon. The adults in your community will be moving to less tolerant places.

“We start getting into disillusionment, ‘I thought this was a good community, but I guess it’s not.’ Then we get into real anger, blame, and mistrust. Eventually it starts to come back up but it’s not [a straight line], there are dips. But, eventually, the days get better as a community, a family and for each person.”

Keep reading the See-Yaht-Sub and Tulalip News for updates on crisis relief efforts, where to receive counseling and how to help the Tulalip and Marysville communities move forward from tragedy.

Tulalip Healing: A Challenging Time for Tribal Youth

 

 By Kara Briggs-Campbell, Tulalip News Guest Writer 

Weeks and months after the tragic events of Oct. 24, many Tulalip youth are likely to still be grappling with deep feelings and complex emotions associated with grief, experts say.

The key for adults and even peers will be keeping a lifeline of connection with tribal youth as they move from feelings of shock and trauma to grief and loss.

“The hardest part with teens is that their developmental task in normal times is to push away from their parents,” said Alison Bowen, Family Healing Program Coordinator for the Tulalip Tribes. “It’s like, ‘Love you, mom. Gotta go.’ Yet even as they are pushing you away, the challenge is how to reconnect with them in this time of trauma.”

Sudden behavioral changes are one of the signs that an adolescent or teen is struggling emotionally. These shifts can include examples such as, a youth, who usually rises early to get ready for school, suddenly doesn’t care; An outgoing kid isolates herself or himself; A teen detaches from his or her friends.

“If all of sudden any kind of big change happens that is what you want to watch for,” Bowen said.

The people most likely to notice such changes are friends of the same age group. That’s why specialists say the best thing now is to let the kids be together, whether they are playing basketball, making art, talking or even sitting still together.

A major concern is if a youth is thinking a lot about death, or meditating on a past hurt, or unable to think about anything but the recent losses of life.

“It is important to listen and do what you can to encourage the person to get help,” said Dr. Richard McKeon, Branch Chief of the Center for Mental Health Services.

For the very most vulnerable, the concern is preventing youth suicide—knowing that among American Indians aged 10 to 24 suicide rates are higher than in the same age group among other races.

“It is important not to be frightened to ask the question whether someone is thinking about suicide,” he said. “The research shows that if you ask a youth and they say no, they aren’t going to start thinking about suicide because you asked.”

“But if someone appears to be depressed or hopeless, it is important to ask the question and not to panic if the answer is yes,” McKeon said. “For a person who is in trauma and potentially thinking about suicide it is essential that make a connection with someone.”

One way a teen could support a friend is by helping them to make contact with a trusted adult. Sometimes that adult is a parent or a favorite aunt, uncle or grandparent. Other times it may be the Native liaison at school or a staffer at the Tulalip Boys and Girls Club. Ultimately the youth might need mental health counseling, but in the immediate term, a trusted adult can make all the difference in the world.

“We know in the days ahead we are going to have more kids dealing with grief and anger and more kids who are anxious and scared,” Bowen said.

The best ways a friend can help now are to be available, to listen respectfully as the person who is sad or in trauma pour out their feelings, or sit quietly if they just want company.

“It’s hard that we’re asking people to take care of the youth when everyone’s hearts are so heavy,” Bowen said. “That’s why it can’t only be a family looking after their own kids, it has to be all of us pitching in to help.”

Where can I call for help?

  • To report an emergency dial 911
  • National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Snohomish County Crisis Line: 1-800-584-3578
  • Crisis TEXT Line: Text “Listen” to 741-741
  • 24 Hour Crisis Line: 1-866-427-4747
  • TEENLINK: 1-866-833-6546
  • Tulalip Tribes Behavioral Health Family Services: 360-716-4400
  • Tulalip Tribes Mental Wellness Director Sherry Guzman: 360-716-4305

 

A letter of hope to Tulalip tribal youth from a survivor from the Red Lake Nation

 

Justin Jourdain was a ninth grader when he witnessed the school shooting at Red Lake High School. A Red Lake tribal member, Justin was friends with classmates who died and others who were injured. Now a Red Lake Nation police officer with a family of his own, Justin wanted to travel to Tulalip to meet with and encourage tribal youth in person, but his work schedule got in the way. So Justin has written an open letter to Tulalip youth and provided it to the See-Yaht-Sub.

 

 

Justin Jourdain and son.

Justin Jourdain and son.
Photo courtesy of Justin Jourdain

 

Boozhoo! This is the way we greet each other in my tribe, the Red Lake Nation in Northern Minnesota.

You may not realize it right now, but everything will get better with time.

If you witnessed this tragic event or you were at school that day, you will always remember, as I do those terrifying moments. But in a few weeks and then a few months, it will get easier. You will gain perspective from having lived through this traumatic time in your Tribe’s history. Believe me, surviving can change your life for the better, if you let it.

In the days after the Red Lake School shooting, survivors from Columbine High School met with my classmates and me. The contact with the others who had the same experience gave me the courage to hope again for the future, though I lived with the memory very strongly until 2008 when I graduated from high school, and that helped me to find closure.

I know firsthand how important it is to meet people who share this still unusual experience. That inspired me to go to reach out to other students at schools where this has happened. I feel that it helps just to meet and spend time with someone who knows what this experience felt like. It is important to the healing process to feel that someone knows what it was like.  In time, you may have the opportunity to help someone else heal, though it is always my hope that nothing like this ever happen again.

Healing will be a long process, but you will get better. You will remember for the rest of your life. For me nine year later, I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. But I’ve learned to deal with the pain and continue living. You will learn to cope as I have.

Today I am married and I have a six-year-old son. For the last four years I have worked in law enforcement for my tribal police. I am 25 years old.

In 2005, I was freshman in high school and I couldn’t conceive of all the good things ahead. But stick in the back of your mind that the rest of your life is waiting for you to live it. Believe that things will get better as you let go of the pain and move forward in your life.

Your friend from the Red Lake Nation,

Justin Jourdain