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Indianz.Com > Native Sun News: Parents encouraged to connect with culture

Finding strength in tribal traditions helps Native Americans face their problems, said Pamela Iron, who is Cherokee and Laguna, director of the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center in Tahlequah, Okla.

One of the keynote speakers at the Parent Involvement Training V, Look Across the Mountain: “Voices from the Native Community” conference held in Albuquerque April 30-May1, Iron urged people to connect with their tribal past.

The conference was sponsored by Sundance Educational Consulting Inc.

People should learn about and value the favorite places in their homeland, Iron said.

“Look to the sacred places where we have ceremonies to find our voice. Seeing these places helps us face health problems, find wellness and continue the journey toward harmony and balance.”

Learning traditions helps teach the next generation values, she added.

“Young people have the burden to do rituals; many have never been told the reasons behind them. We must take the time to do so.”

Women are powerful in many tribes considered matrilineal – with property inherited through the female.

“Europeans came, Indians lost control,” Iron continued. “Historical trauma led to alcoholism and other problems.”

Often, people “take on the pain of their ancestors and feel loyalty to those who have died. They take on the death of ancestors as their own pain.”

Yet, tribes are resilient, she added. “We have an innate resiliency. Our ancestors are within us. Our cultural practices keep us healthy. They give us our identity. They keep us centered.”

Traditional practices, including naming ceremonies, puberty ceremonies and healing ceremonies help maintain mental health, said Iron.

“Traditional knowledge and way of life, using the heart with the head gives credibility to our people.”

The federal government forbade certain dances; they feared some would harm peoples’ health, she said. But “when men and women dance and sing, endorphins are released and they have a natural high. Endorphins are good for the body.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE: Indianz.Com > Native Sun News: Parents encouraged to connect with culture.

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