Blog Hop: Still Here

Still-here!The other day I received an invitation from Ji Hyang Padma to participate in a “Blog Hop”.  Here is a link to his fine blog, Natural Wisdom.

These are my responses to his questions:

What am I writing/working on?
Most of my writing is blog related. I have limited time to write so I try to use that time well. With luck I write three or four posts per week, the majority of which are posted here.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am an urban Native, brought up to “pass” as European, and working and living in an urban context. I am light-skinned, lack tribal affiliation, and have always lived far from any of the reservations of my heritage. I am still a “Real Indian”. My writing reflects my experience in all of its complexity.

I have been blessed in that many Elders and shamans have shared their knowledge with me. I write about shamanism because so much writing about shamanism takes shamanic ideas and practices out of context. For me, shamanism is deeply nested in Indigenous experience. This does not mean that only Indigenous people practice shamanism or can be shamans. Rather, it suggests that Indigenous concepts about the nature of the world and All-That-Is are at the core of shamanic belief and practice. It implies a moral dimension to the universe, a complex pattern of reciprocity in which there is no such thing as a “free lunch.” It insists that the spirits and the ancestors are immediate and central to human experience.

I find that much writing about Narrative Therapy removes the Indigenous influences that helped to shape the discipline. My conversations with Michael White, and other practitioners from Australia and New Zealand, over the past twenty years have greatly influenced my understanding of the Indigenous underpinnings of Narrative ideas and practices. I am grateful to all who have shared their lives and knowledge with me. I am also acutely aware that Narrative Therapy in the US has been largely stripped of Native influences. This is very much in keeping with historical Psychological practices that privilege European constructions of psyche over Native understandings of self and community. I write to bring Indigenous voices and ideas back to Narrative Therapy in the US.

Why do I write what I write?
In my writing, I give voice to my experience as a mixed race person who was trained in shamanism, and my work as a psychotherapist. I aspire to give others a glimpse into these worlds, and to do so in a manner that honors my ancestors and teachers. I also strive to provide ideas and practices that may be helpful to my readers.
I am concerned that many voices are silenced and cultures erased. I have one bumper sticker on my car. It reads “We are still here.” In smaller type is written, “Polio survivors.” I am a Polio survivor, and live with the ever-present after-effects of the virus. I am also an urban Native, with mixed Indian and European ancestry. Like many urban Indians, I live with feet firmly planted in both worlds. It is good to write about survivance, the task of holding to the truth of one’s life experience under the constant threat of erasure. It is good to remind others that we are indeed, still here.
How does my writing process work?
That is a great question! Unfortunately it is one I cannot easily answer. Sometimes I am given a dream that demands writing; other times a post is sparked by something I have read, a lived experience, or an interaction with a patient or a healer.  Often posts arise from conversations with my readers. Some posts seem to almost write themselves, while others are born of long labor.
Who are some of the bloggers you read?
There are many bloggers whose work I read and appreciate. Three bloggers who often influence my work are Tree Girl, Cynthia Coleman, and Andrea Smith. I have invited them to join the Blog Hop.
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9 thoughts on “Blog Hop: Still Here

  1. I am curious about Narrative Therapy. Do you tell stories that then evoke the client’s story or somehow provide a sequeway to their own experiences? As a former psychotherapist I am very familiar with sandplay therapy. A colleague of mine in Maine has combined storytelling with sandplay. I believe she still works for the Indian Mental Health service in Maine. Her name is Susanne Carroll, Ph.D. and she teaches her techniques through Seminars by the Sea around Maine. Don’t know whether or not this could lead to any kind of cross-pollination…
    BTW, since we just recently found each other in the blogosphere, here is a link to my post on Lupita M., A Dine woman in Canyon de Chelly, AZ, whom I consider a masterful storyteller with a mission: http://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/canyon-memories-the-lost-art-of-storytelling/

    • There are several schools of Narrative Therapy. I am most influenced by the Australian and New Zealand schools. Here is a link to the Dulwich Center. You can learn much about their style of Narrative Therapy from the site. Thank you for the links. I believe I am somewhat acquainted with the work of Susanne. I did not know of Lupita.

      • I checked out their site, description of Narrative Therapy, and the various practitioners associated with the center and this technique. I am struck with the high interest in cultural issues, trauma, marginalization. It is very different from what I thought it was at first. Thanks for leading me to this approach….

  2. Thanks for including me in the dance: is this how you hop? I will script a blog with your writing questions and, meantime, I am struggling with my book on Native Science, being pulled in a zillion directions. Today I blocked out 5 hours of writing without emails, phone calls, etc., and recaptured thoughts about politics and citizenship concerning American Indians. I’m trying to wrap my head around the dilemma of citizenship–typically accorded individuals born into a political state [unlike so-called immigrants]–but actualized in divergent ways for tribal people, who lacked formal citizenship through the 20th Century–despite the requirements of being “born here.”

    • I’m pleased you will post something. I was hesitant to ask as I figured you were busy – I look forward to the book being out in the world. Citizenship is such a difficult and complex question. The US has never been nuanced in thought about this. Will you be blogging your thoughts?

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