‘Concentrate on our strengths’

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I agree with Charles Trimble 100 percent that it’s time to stop the self-pity of our status and concentrate on our strengths and resiliency as American Indian and Alaska Natives. [See “No easy answers in Indian country,” Vol. 28, Iss. 14.]

I remember him as the president of the National Congress of American Indians and the effort he supported in getting the Indian Child Welfare Act into law. I had the privilege of providing testimony representing NCAI at the Senate hearings. As a result of many peoples’ efforts, we now have a law to help protect our children. If I recall correctly, Mr. Trimble’s tenure as president of NCAI was also instrumental in focusing on alcohol abuse among the AI/AN population and helpful in getting NIAAA to provide the first grants to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

I use the term “historical strengths,” as opposed to “historical trauma,” to try and help us to overcome the cloud of victimhood. Current problems exist and we must address them, but we must not fail to consider the many strengths we possess and the strengths our ancestors possessed to want to maintain our traditional cultures.

I commend Mr. Trimble for taking a stand on the issue of historical trauma and I lend my support. I am the first American Indian clinical psychologist from way back when and I can cite the strengths of AI/AN people from my years of practice with that population.

– Marlene EchoHawk, Ph.D.

Albuquerque, N.M.