Over fifteen years ago, when the Diversity Foundation was established its original mission was to produce a variety of documentaries including interviewing Native American Elders in order to preseve their History. During our interviews we learned about the dire needs of the people who once caled this country their home. Of the top twenty poorest counties in the United States, all of them contain Indian Reservations.
The Crow Creek Indian Reservation has the distinction of being the poorest Reservation in the country right now, having inherited the title from the Pine Ridge Reservation who held the title for most of the last twenty years. The unemployment rate is between 80 and 90 percent with the average per capita income being just over $5,000.00
Several of the Native American Elders, including the late Rod Steiner, the late Robert Bone, and Heriditary Chief Ernest Wabasha VI, asked the Diversity Foundation to help them. The most urgent request came from Chief Wabasha himself when he asked Diversity Foundation Executive Director Lyle Rustad to “help me find my relatives.”
Many people in the Native American Community suffer from what is know as Historical Trauma.
What is historical trauma? Historical trauma is cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma. Native Americans have, for over 500 years, endured physical, emotional, social, and spiritual genocide from European and American colonialist policy.
Historical unresolved grief is the grief that accompanies the trauma.
The effects of historical trauma include depression, high mortality rates, high rates of alcohol abuse, significant problems of child abuse and domestic violence.
Historical Trauma can be described as a “deep depression” and depression can be described as “anger turned inward.” To remove the depression one must get rid of their anger and to get rid of the anger one has to forgive. Click Here to read more about Forgiveness.
This is why the Diversity Foundation supports events such as the Dakota Homecoming held every year in Winona, Minnesota. It is a way to Forgive, Heal, and bring Reconciliation between the Native-American and European-American Communities.