Practicing self sovereignty during COVID-19

Indian Country Today

When you're in charge of yourself, that is a sovereign moment

Darryl Tonemah, Kiowa, Comanche, and Tuscarora, is a psychologist who is helping tribes and communities navigate this pandemic with their children. 

He is the CEO of Tonemah Consulting Group and First Nations Telehealth Solutions. Here are a few of his comments:  

"One of the things that I know about how stress and trauma behave either if it's chronic, like the COVID where this is ongoing or if it's acute, is that the body responds differently during stressful situations"

"The physiology is also a big part of it. Thankfully I spent the last 15 years learning about the physiology of trauma and how it behaves in the body. And then really simple tools that we can use to prevent this from building up in the system."

"Thankfully I've had the opportunity to get work with a lot of communities and a lot of schools to prepare for what we hope isn't coming but could become.

"If we're looking at behavior change, look at what your baseline was before this even started. How did you feel beforehand? Have you noticed changes in you since this has happened?"

"I stayed up like 2 in the morning, which I haven't done since college. And then I would, I was sleeping til like 10, which is unheard of. And so I had to kind of think, 'well, what is going on in my system'."

"Make sure you're getting enough nutrition, drinking enough water, getting enough rest. These are simple things that you just attend to it, it'll help you with the battle against stress or any kind of depression."

"We as parents really have to take care of ourselves because our kids are social referencing us. They're looking at us and saying, how do we behave."

"Kids that may have difficulty expressing, they don't have the same verbal tools, their brain is not a fully developed adult brain."

"So they may experience it but not be able to express it. So we can almost expect, some behavioral problems."

"Behavioral problems may look like sleeplessness and then it may look like irritability, defiance, anger. That's just how the their body's responding. It feels like that. And this is how it's expressed."

"The number one thing that will predict success for our kids is that they feel safe during this time. Was home safe? Was I safe in our communities? Are we consistent? Are we there? Are we sober? Are we bringing them along? Those are the things that are going to determine how this goes for our kids."

"Always recommended this, but now more than ever, parenting is not a spectator sport, but we have to dive in to our kids. So they have the opportunity to feel free to express and to feel safe and comfortable."

"I always recommend some structure for kids for sure."

"We want to have some relative bedtimes. We want to have relative wake up times."

"You don't have to carry everything forward that you've done previous. You've never had a pause like this in any of our lifetimes. So we can look at it and say, well, here's the things that I really learned and here's who I was previously."

"Feel in charge of yourself again. And when I'm in charge of myself, that is a sovereign moment.”

"There's a lot of research on how things have happened. Historically, kids have been born with specific memories of those things. Some people have, kids have been born stressed in our Native communities. We call that blood memory."

Also on the daily newscast, Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye reports updated COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the program is Patty Talahongva. 

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