At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Damita Sunwolf Larue about the Native American people and the loss and grief they have suffered throughout their history.
Damita is a Cherokee from Oklahoma and her grandmother is a medicine woman. Damita says grief and loss have been a part of their history since Columbus came 522 years ago. She goes into more detail about this in the video below.
Here are some key takeaways from the video:
- In the 522 years since Columbus came to America, there have been a number of instances of genocide against the Native American people. Some tribes have even gone extinct as a result of what happened during that time.
- Historical trauma and historical loss are huge things that people have a challenge with acknowledging, Damita says.
- In Native American culture, grief and loss gets handled differently depending on the tribe. As an example, the Cherokee people believe that in order to help the deceased person move on their death needs to be avenged. Obviously that’s not something that can happen in today’s culture, so ceremonies have taken the place of some of these outdated rituals.
- Grief and loss rituals are a very private thing for Native American tribes, and are something the tribes keep to themselves. Ceremony specifics aren’t typically shared with others.
- Damita shares some advice for dealing with loss, which is to build resiliency by grabbing on to your culture and not letting pieces of it die and fly away. Hold on to your culture, or come back to it if you have gone away from it for a while.
For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.