Impacts of historical trauma on Native Americans today

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Imagine being told suddenly to pack a few of your belongings and leave everything you know. It's this type of forceful removal back in the 1830's that still affect Native Americans to this day.

A workshop at the School of Mines and Technology Monday night aims to talk about the modern effects historical moments like these have on the Native American community.

"For anybody that's a descendant of any type of indigenous or Native lineage, we are all direct products of historical trauma. It's affecting our lives here and now today," Thrive Unltd Director Jeremy Fields said.

This is the reason why for the past two years, Jeremy Fields tours around the nation.

Thrive Unltd is a group created to empower indigenous communities to heal.

Fields helps explain historical traumatic moments like Indian removals to sending Native Americans off to Indian Boarding Schools.

A disappointing mark in Rapid City's history.

At least 45 children died at the Rapid City Indian Boarding School in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

See related story Researchers seek meeting on Indian Boarding School land issue

People pay tribute with a march in October holding the signs of the children's names.

See related story Marchers honor boarding school students

Fields said when boarding schools were dismantled and Natives tried to make their way back to their families, it's as if "their culture was handed back to them in fragments."

"There are subtle ways that, that trauma exist within families. You know off hand statements that we say or little habits that we picked up not realizing how detrimental they are," he said.

For example, the idea of a loving touch can be difficult sometimes as it stems back from when tuberculosis was an epidemic, according to Fields.

"Human contact, physical contact was looked upon as something negative because you didn't want to transmit that disease. So maybe as a mother that was the way I protected you," he said.

While the workshop is intended to help indigenous people discover their identity, it's also a teachable moment for Non-Natives on how historical trauma is part of the reason why some Natives are struggling with substance abuse, mental health and even incarceration to this day.

"It's because everybody is trying to understand how to deal with this conflict that nobody has ever really resolved," Fields said.

The workshop is Wednesday night at the Surbeck Center at the School of Mines and Technology.

However, another session will take place on March 4th.