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Imaiyạchi: Transcending Historical Trauma and Living Ancestral Visions Imagined for Us as Native Women

February 13, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


The Women’s Health Seminar Series features multidisciplinary research on women’s health. The goal of the series is to provide multidisciplinary training and mentorship to faculty, students, and community members across a broad range of women’s health research topics. Speakers will present their research regarding the biological, psychological, behavioural, economic and social impacts on women’s health outcomes through a 45 minute talk and engage with attendees in an interactive 15 minute question and answer period. The series is open to anyone interested in attending!

Presenter: Dr. Karina Walters, Professor, Katherine Hall Chambers Scholar, Co-Director, IWRI, University of Washington, School of Social Work

Talk Summary: American Indian community discourse suggests that historical trauma can potentially become embodied in risk behaviors and that these factors may play a significant role in present-day health inequities. Historical trauma which consists of traumatic events targeting a community that cause catastrophic upheaval, have been posited by Native communities to have pernicious intergenerational effects through a myriad of mechanisms from biological to behavioral. Consistent with our tribal systems of knowledge, it is critical that we identify health promotion approaches rooted in the strengths of our tribal knowledges and vision of life, wellness, and health held for us by our ancestors in designing health promotion interventions- particularly those interventions that address historical trauma. This presentation provides an overview of innovations in designing culturally derived health promotion approaches to addressing historical trauma and transcending the trauma with a particular focus on American Indian and Alaska Native women. Specifically, this presentation will describe the Yappalli Choctaw Road to Health, a culturally focused, strengths-based outdoor experiential obesity-substance abuse risk prevention and health leadership program designed to develop 150 Choctaw women health leaders throughout Choctaw territory. Highlights include our theoretical innovation in creating a Choctaw-specific health promotion model for behavioral change grounded in our ancient teachings and the vision that our ancestors held for us in transcending historical trauma.