• Alaska Iñupiaq skin-sewing designs: a portal into cultural identity

      Topkok, Amelia Katherine Ahnaughuq (2018-05)
      What it means to be an Indigenous person in the 21st century is a powerful and moving experience, and how we explore our own identity is up to us. Access to differing worldviews through printed literature and academia give a largely non-Indigenous viewpoint and inaccurate impressions of what it means to be "Iñupiaq." Indigenous education programs throughout the world, however, are emerging and emphasize personal views of individuals, creating a window into their worldview. Recognizing these worldviews validate Indigenous knowledge and allows this knowledge to be brought into arenas previously thought to be only relevant through Western knowledge. We all are human; we learn in many different ways, and through relationships and cultural training, we create and redefine our identity through experiential learning. Revealing skin sewers' perspectives of themselves, their values, and ways they express cultural identity is part of my research. Examining personal family history and other sources exploring Iñupiaq perspectives of women (or men if found) and their skin-sewn garments, demonstrates how these garments serve as cultural icons of "being Iñupiaq." Part of their story is learning who their mentors are, how were they influenced by Iñupiaq values, and the role of garments representing identity. There are varying reasons of what it means to be Iñupiaq: ideals, values, and human bonds exist between the creator and the wearer of skin-sewn garments.
    • Elim's cultural values: reaffirming and implementing indigenous values in education

      Marchant, Samantha C. (2017-12)
      The curriculum project Elim's Cultural Values: Reaffirming and Implementing Indigenous Values in Education was brought to light through community-based participatory action research. Through informal interviews, survey analysis and discussions with local residents of Elim, Alaska; Elim's Cultural Values were identified and implemented into local curriculum. The Indigenous values of the community of Elim are a combination of both Yup'ik and Inupiaq heritage. These values have been carefully laid out into a set of forty separate lessons, (ten cultural value units) in which educators in the local school can implement culturally relevant lessons that connect with the Bering Strait School District curriculum. This project is a living curriculum, currently being piloted in Elim's Kindergarten classroom. It seeks to utilize the many resources we have in our school and community in hopes of reaffirming Elim's cultural values within both school and community.
    • Historical trauma and approaches to healing among Choctaw American Indians

      Woods, Ashley; Rivkin, Inna; Gifford, Valerie; Lardon, Ce'cile; David, E.J.R. (2018-08)
      Native Americans have experienced a number of historically traumatic events that are believed to contribute to the development of behavioral health symptoms that negatively affect Native American quality of life across generations. Despite the trajectory of trauma experienced in some Native American communities, Native Americans exhibit extraordinary resilience and cultural strengths. Stress and coping models have been developed to explain how historical trauma is related to current health disparities among Native Americans and how enculturation may serve as a buffer against the negative effects of historical trauma. However, these models apply meta-theories to understanding historical trauma rather than tribally specific conceptualizations of historical trauma and historical trauma responses. Therefore, it is important to understand tribally specific manifestations of historical trauma so that intervention and prevention efforts are culturally appropriate. Choctaws are one of the largest Native American groups in the United States. They have experienced a history of forced removal and relocation from traditional homelands, yet the Choctaw Nation itself exhibits continuous growth and success as a tribe. This study used a qualitative, phenomenological, and community based participatory research (CBPR) approach to explore how Oklahoma Choctaw American Indians experience historical trauma and define well-being and enculturation. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with Choctaw American Indians in three different age categories 18-29; 30-49; and 50 and over to examine generational differences in how concepts of historical trauma, enculturation, and well-being are conceptualized. The theoretical construct of historical trauma was informed by themes of assimilation and colonization; resurgence of the Choctaw identity; awareness of historical losses and affective responses; forms of coping; current barriers to accessing Choctaw Nation services; and varying degrees of cultural involvement among tribal members. The theoretical construct of well-being was described in terms of physical health, faith, family, and culture. The theoretical construct of enculturation included pride in heritage, having Choctaw blood, being involved, and social connectedness. Choctaw participants reported social problems related to substance abuse and a sense of diminishing social connectedness to other tribal members. Recommendations on how to upscale behavioral health treatment and strengthen community ties are described. Adapted measures of historical trauma and enculturation for use in future research endeavors with Oklahoma Choctaw American Indians are also provided.