In 2000, Maria Brave Heart published the article, "Wakiksuyapi: Carrying the Historical Trauma of the Lakota."Using the historical trauma research conducted in survivors of the Holocaust, Brave Heart would identify a comparable cluster of events correlated with massive group trauma across generations, including the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre and the forced removal of children to federal boarding schools.
She conceptualized the current form of historical trauma in the 1980s as a way to comprehend what she observed as many Native Americans being unable to fulfill "the American Dream".
Her most significant findings came in a cluster of six symptoms: 1. 1st Contact: life shock, genocide, no time for grief, a Colonization Period in which the introduction of disease and alcohol occurred, and traumatic events such as Wounded Knee Massacre, 2. Economic competition, which resulted in loss from spiritual and tangible dimensions, 3. the occurrence of Invasion/War Period, which
involved extermination and refugee symptoms, 4. a Subjugation/Reservation Period: confinement and translocation occur, a relationship forced dependency on oppressor is formed, and a lack of security occur, 5. Boarding School Period, in which the family system is destroyed, beatings, rape, and prohibition of Native language and religion ensue; Lasting Effect: ill-prepared for parenting, identity
confusion. and 6. Forced Relocation and Termination Period: transfer to urban areas, prohibition of religious freedom, racism and being viewed as second class; loss of governmental system and community. and a three-pronged intervention mode: education, sharing the effects of trauma and grief resolution through collective mourning and healing.
Since 1976, Brave Heart has worked directly in the field to gather information on the impact of historical trauma within the indigenous communities. These groups include the Lakota in South Dakota, multiple tribes in New Mexico, and populations of indigenous and Latinos in Denver, New Mexico, and New York.
Dr. Brave Heart is also responsible for hosting and presenting over 175 presentations on subject matter related to historical trauma as well as training numerous tribes across the United States and First Nations populations in the country of Canada.
Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart is known for developing a model of historical trauma, historical unresolved grief theory and interventions in indigenous peoples. Brave Heart earned her Master of Science from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1976.
In 1992, Brave Heart established the Takini Network, a Native nonprofit organization dedicated to healing the wounds inflicted on Native Americans through the experiences of intergenerational trauma, located in Rapid City, South Dakota. (WIKI)
Dr. Brave Heart's Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief Intervention has received grant awards, including grants that incorporate components of the intervention in reservation-based parenting work. From 2001-2004 Brave Heart directed an international conference that brought together indigenous survivors of massive trauma and their descendants. Brave Heart has been a repeat conference presenter for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Council on Social Work Education and as a consultant to the National Indian Country Child Trauma Center.
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