Author: Debra Klemann, LCPC, LMFT, National Native Children's Trauma Center
The human propensity towards healing, strength, growth, and relationships embodies the concept of resiliency. Resiliency is a strength based approach to examining human nature and is frequently described as positive adaptions in the face of adversity (Fleming & Ledogar 2008). In order to promote positive outcomes for our youth we hope to foster resiliency by increasing protective factors.
Originally resiliency has been associated with individual protective factors that buffer against difficult circumstances, such as an optimistic temperament, a sense of humor, self-awareness and the ability to live with uncertainty. Meaningful relationships with others are also identified as an essential component of youth resiliency. Yet there is even more credence to relationships and connectedness. The interplay of family, community, and cultural protective factors has broadened the understanding of resiliency and coincides with the richness and strength of tribal communities.
Goodluck (2002) identified well-being factors specifically relevant to Native Americans that could potentially increase resiliency, including the power of the group, cultural identity, a sense of humor, spiritual and ceremonial participation, and ties to language, stories and tribal values. Historically belonging to a tribal community has enveloped members in the support and strength necessary to cope with distress.
“…. when one sees an individual, family, group, or community showing signs of unhealthy, unbalanced, dysfunctional, and out of harmony behavior, this is a signal to all of the group members to come into ceremony once again. The cycle begins to restore itself through the use of traditions, values, and practices known to that culture and tribe” (Goodluck & Wileto 2009).
Programming and interventions for youth that foster individual strengths, promote healthy relationships, and incorporate cultural practices and participation are of paramount importance in increasing resiliency. Yet let us not forget our own interconnectedness. When we are resilient as individuals and families our communities are resilient. When communities are resilient, individuals and families are resilient. Let this interconnectedness give us strength and guide our work in the coming times.
Belcourt-Dittloff, Annjeanette Elise, "Resiliency and Risk in Native American Communities: A Culturally Informed Investigation" (2007). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 826. https://scholarworks.umt.edu/etd/826
Goodluck, C. (2002). Native American children and youth well-being indicators: A strengths based perspective. Seattle, WA, Casey Family Programs.
Goodluck, C. & Willeto, A. A. (2009). Seeing the Protective Rainbow: How Families Survive and Thrive in the American Indian and Alaska Native Community.Baltimore, MD, The Annie E. Casey Foundation. https://tribalinformationexchange.org/files/resources/CharlotteGoodluck_HowFamiliesSurviveandThriveinIndiancountry(1).pdf
Fleming, J., & Ledogar, R. J. (2008). Resilience, an Evolving Concept: A Review of Literature Relevant to Aboriginal Research. Pimatisiwin, 6(2), 7–23.