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ACCESS TO RECOVERY ANIISHNAABEK HEALING CIRCLE. Understanding Our Journey Linda Woods, MSW. Personal Information. Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewas tribal member, Peshawbestown Began SA field in the mid 70’s – Native American program in San Jose, CA

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Access to recovery aniishnaabek healing circle


Understanding Our Journey

Linda Woods, MSW

Personal information

Personal Information

  • Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewas tribal member, Peshawbestown

  • Began SA field in the mid 70s Native American program in San Jose, CA

  • Volunteer working with alcoholics when not working in the field (jail meetings, prison, etc)

  • Graduated MSW - San Jose University 1994

  • Worked with SA clients in child welfare, CA

  • Working with the Anishinaabek for GTB, Inter-Tribal Council & in 2008 retired from Substance Abuse Director at Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Petoskey

  • Tribal Elder, Veteran (U.S.A.F. 1962-66), mother, grandmother

Purpose the journey

PURPOSE The Journey

  • Understanding the Aniishnaabek journey

  • What happened? Who are we today?

  • Understanding the importance of our history

  • What is it like walking in our moccasins?

  • Exploring our cultural journey

  • Helping your clients embrace

    who they are today

  • Applying recovery principles

Learning objectives

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge & understanding culture of the Anishnaabek in Michigan

  • Tribal History Ojibwe, Odawa, Bodawatomi

  • Clan System

  • Impact of Historical Trauma

  • Boarding Schools

  • Loss of Culture

  • Culture for Solutions: Medicine Wheel, Seven Grandfather/Grandmother Teachings, Sacred Plants & Medicines

  • Recovery Concepts for Native Americans

You will also learn

You will also learn :

  • Laughter is healing

  • Laughter is a powerful medicine that brings not only the spirit within happiness but brings healing as well to the body & mind.

  • We have learned to laugh at ourselves



You know it's time to lose weight when:* You can't see your moccasin strings anymore* You can't fit your choker, because you no longer have a neck* The car naturally tilts downward on the side you always ride on

* You have to "lift" your stomach to show off your new beaded belt buckle

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rez (reservation) dawgs

How can you spot the difference between a regular canine and a Rez dog?Throw each one in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. The regular canine should come out tender and moist. The Rez dog will come out

with a towel wrapped around his waist

saying, "Dang that was a good sweat!"

Pre contact


  • There was a time long ago when our people believed that all of creation was sacred and we were one

  • 2 million indigenous people lived on Turtle Island long before Europeans came to this land

  • Indian refers to what Columbus called the Native people, Indios thinking he was in the East Indies

Pre contact1


  • Native people identified themselves based on their connection to their families, clan or tribe

  • Basic understanding of plant-based medicines western: less than 10 plant based drugs; tribal people used more than 170 plant-based medicines

  • Philosophy of oneness with all of creation

  • No abuse of plants respected minimized use of alcohol to ceremonial purposes

Early days post contact 15 th 18 th century

Early Days Post Contact15th 18th Century

  • English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, Russians East, South, North, West

  • Initial introduction of alcohol throughout

  • Initial response to alcohol was rather benign - Rejection of alcohol

  • Change in patterns of drinking began

    to emerge



  • Touch not the poisonous

    firewater that makes wise

    men turn to fools and robs

    the spirit of its vision.



  • In the words of an Odawa prophet who voiced his prayer for our people:

    .My Children, you may salute the Whites when you meet them, but must not shake hands you must not drink one drop of whiskey. It is the drink of the evil spirit. It was not made by me-but by the Americans. It is poison. Neither are you on any account to eat bread. It is the food of the Whites.



  • The name, Anishnaabek means The Original People that is a name given to the three tribes who have called this land their homeland for many centuries before European contact

  • The three tribes are: Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), Bodewadmi (Potawatomi) = 12 Federally recognized tribes in Michigan today

  • share a common language base

  • Three Fires Confederacy

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Tribal Contacts:Bay Mills Indian Community12140 W. Lakeshore Dr., Brimley, MI 49715906.248.3241

Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians2605 N. Bayshore Dr., Suttons Bay, MI 49682866.534.7750

Hannahville Indian CommunityN-14910 Hannahville B-1 Rd., Wilson, MI 49896906.466.2932

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community16429 Beartown Rd., Baraga, MI 49908906.353.6623

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Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa IndiansP.O. Box 249, Watersmeet, MI 49969906.358.4577

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians7500 Odawa Circle, Harbor Springs, MI 49740231.242.1400

Match-E-Be-Nash-She (Gun Lake Tribe)P.O. Box 218, 1743 142nd Ave., Dorr, MI 49323616.681.8830.

Nottawaseppi Band of Huron Potawatomi2221 1-1/2 Mile Rd., Fulton, MI 49052269.729.5151

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Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians58620 Sink RoadDowagiac, Michigan 49047 269-782-6323

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe7070 E. Broadway, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858989.775.4000

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians523 Ashmun St., Sault Ste. Marie, MI

Bureau of Indian Affairs2845 Ashmun St., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783906.632.6809/877-659-5028

Three fires confederacy

Three Fires Confederacy

The three tribes interacted with each

other like members of a family.

The Ojibwa was referred to as the "older

brother; the Odawa was the middle

brother and the Potawatomi was the

"younger brother." We are still family to

each other today.

Together, they formed the Three Fires

Confederacy, a loose knit alliance that

promoted their mutual interests.

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  • The Ojibwa are the Keepers of the Faith,

  • the Odawa are the Keepers of the Trade

  • and the Potawatomi are the Keepers of the

  • Fire.

  • There were Three Bundles (medicine): The

  • Ojibwa maintain the Midewin Lodge; The

  • Odawa had the Shaking Lodge;

  • The Bodwadmi have the Wabano Lodge.

  • Fire (boodawaadam), which became the

  • basis for their name Boodewaadamii (Ojibwa

  • spelling) or Bodwadmi (Potawatomi

  • spelling).

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  • Using the Midewiwinscrolls, Potawatomi

  • elder Shup-Shewana dated the formation of

  • the Council of Three Fires to 796 AD at

  • Michilimackinac.

  • Though the Three Fires had several meeting

  • places, Michilimackinac became the preferred

  • meeting place due to its central location. From

  • this place, the Council met for military and

  • political purposes.

  • The Council generally had a peaceful

  • existence with its neighbors.

  • The Council also used the totem (or clan)

  • system as a promotion of trade.

Clan system


  • Ojibwe people organized themselves into grand families, called dodem or clans.

  • Originally six human beings that came out of the sea to live among us. These six beings, which were Wawaazisii (Bullhead), Ajejauk (Crane), Makwa (Bear), Moosance (Little Moose), Waabizheshi (Marten), and Bineshii (Thunderbird), created the original clans.

Clan system1


  • 20 offshoots of the original clans

  • The clan system operated as a form of government, a method of organizing work, and a way of defining the responsibilities of each community member.

  • Working together, the clans attended to the physical, intellectual, psychological, and spiritual needs of the community. Each was known by its totem (animal emblem).

Characteristics of clans

Characteristics of Clans

  • The Bird Clan represented the spiritual leaders of the people and gave the nation its vision of well-being and its highest development of the spirit. The people of the Bird Clan were said to possess the characteristics of the eagle, the head of their clan, in that they pursued the highest elevations of the mind just as the eagle pursues the highest elevations of the sky.

Characteristics of clans1

Characteristics of Clans

  • Crane (Ajejauk) clan members were known for their loud and clear voices and recognized as famous speakers. The Crane and the Loon Clans were given the power of Chieftainship. By working together, these two clans gave the people a balanced government with each serving as a check on the other.

Characteristics of clans2

Characteristics of Clans

  • The people of the Fish Clan were the teachers and scholars. They helped children develop skills and healthy spirits.

  • In the age-old tradition, clan members of the same clan respectfully acknowledged each other with the greeting "Aaniin (hello!) Dodem."

The potawatomi

The Potawatomi

  • Approximately four thousand members lived in southern Wisconsin when the Europeans arrived, moved around the southern tip of Lake Michigan and settled in northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan in the early seventeenth century.

  • Called "the people of the place of the fire," the Potawatomi are considered among Michigan's earliest farmers, particularly

    famed for their medicinal herbal gardens

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  • Per U.S. government policy many of them were forcibly relocated to Kansas and Oklahoma by the U.S. military. There is also a small band found in Mexico and another band near Bakersfield,

  • California. Another Band of Potawatomi are in

  • Canada, Walpole Island, near Sarnia.

  • Today, in Michigan there are bands of

  • Pottawatomi located in Shelbyville as the

  • Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band (1999); the

  • Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi

  • in Fulton; the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi (1994) in Dowagiac, and the Hannahville Indian Community in Wilson, MI (upper peninsula).



  • The original homelands are located on Manitoulin Island in present day province of Ontario Canada and in the state of Michigan, they occupy the western half of the Lower Peninsula.

  • The Ottawa people were seasonal wanderers of the land and sailors of the Great Lakes gathering wild rice, netting fish, trapping both large and small game, and hunting large game such as moose, deer, and caribou.

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  • As keepers of the trade, Ottawa people

  • were great traders and craftsmen. One

  • hallmark of Ottawa life is the birch bark

  • canoe.

  • They were noted among their

  • neighbors as intertribal traders

  • and barterers, dealing chiefly in

  • cornmeal , sunflower oil, fur and

  • skin, rug and tobacco, and

  • Medicinal root and herb.

  • They allied with the French against the British and Chief Pontiac led a rebellion against the British at Fort Detroit in 1763.

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  • Today, Ottawas are located:

  • Harbor Springs is the headquarters of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa (1994), serving 21 counties;

  • Manistee is the headquarters of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (1994);

  • Peshawestown is the headquarters of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians serving 6 counties (1980);

  • There are other bands in Michigan that are not as yet federally recognized such as the Grand River Band of Ottawa near Muskegon and the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa in Emmet County;

  • The Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma

  • WikwemikongUnceded Indian Reserveon Manitoulin Island, Wikmemikong, Canada





  • The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa or Ojibway) or Chippewa (also Chippeway) are among the largest groups of Native Americans-First Nations. They are the third-largest in the U.S., surpassed only by Cherokee and Navajo. They are equally divided between the United States and Canada.

  • Originally they came from the eastern areas of North America, or Turtle Island and from along the east coast.



  • Known for their birch barkcanoes, sacred birch bark scrolls, the use of cowrie shells, wild rice, copper points,& for their use of gun technology from the British to defeat and push back the Dakota nation of the Sioux (1745).

  • Historically, they traded widely across the continent for thousands of years and knew of the canoe routes west and a land route to the west coast.

Cowrie shells

Cowrie Shells



  • Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Sault Ste. Marie, MI

  • Bay Mills Indian Community, Brimley, MI

  • Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Indians, 1988, Watersmeet, MI

  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians, 1936, Baraga, MI

  • Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Mt. Pleasant, MI

Historical trauma

Historical Trauma

  • Refers to the oppression that occurred with the Anishinaabek people since contact (all Native peoples)

  • Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart offers this Definition:

    The collective emotional and psychological injury both over the life span and across generations, resulting from a cataclysmic history of genocide

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  • Historical Trauma Causes:

  • Legacy of genocide from U.S. Govt. policies:

  • Legacy of broken treaties

  • Loss of land: Indian Removal Act, 1830: which

  • was the policy of the U.S. government to

  • relocate Native American tribes living east of

  • the Mississippi River to lands west of the

  • riverforcibly, targeting the Five Civilized Tribes

  • but affect several other tribes.

  • The Potawatomi Trail of Death Sept 4to Nov 4,

  • 1838, 859 members of the Potawatomi from the

  • Indiana region were forced to move to Kansas

  • & Oklahoma, led to death of over 40, mostly

  • children due to stress & typhoid fever.

Trail of death

Trail of Death



  • As treaty after treaty ceded land which the Ojibwa never identified as their own possession but rather as caretakers of Mother Earth, the final Treaty of 1854 created the reservation life-style and finalized the ultimate defeat of a once proud people. This occurred all across Indian Country.



  • The reservations stripped them of their way of life, disintegrated all concepts of cultural leadership as it was known through the clan system, forced localization, prevented normal commerce of gathering and hunting, and sought to establish an agrarian culture on a people who had no experience with agriculture on land that was hostile to agriculture.

  • The Dawes Act of 1887 broke up the reservations into individual allotments of land.

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  • Loss of Culture/Language/Spirituality fear of Indians having secret ceremonies or uprisings so policy was developed to prohibit ceremonial practices. Many tribal peoples went underground with their ceremonies to survive.

  • Effects:

  • Unsettled trauma

  • Unresolved grief

  • Increase of substances (alcohol), child abuse, suicide, unhealthy lifestyles and domestic violence, other forms of violence (lateral).

Boarding schools

Boarding Schools

  • 1st school: Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1879 by Capt. Benjamin Pratt in an attempt to forcibly assimilate the Native people; approx 140 tribes were affected; was considered the model school of 26 boarding schools across the U.S.

  • Children were recruited by trickery; hundreds of children died at the school; abuses of all forms took place; harsh military structure; punishment hard labor/confinement

Boarding schools1

Boarding Schools

  • Life at the boarding schools was often a shock. One girl recalled being held down as her hair was cut short. She said, "among our people" only "cowards" wore short hair. Another student remembered that attending a boarding school was like being "suddenly dumped" into "another world, helpless, defenseless, bewildered, trying desperately and instinctively to survive it all."

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  • Many were beaten, raped

  • Native language prohibited because of being

  • forced to speak the English language and were

  • punished if caught speaking their own

  • language

  • Lasting effect:

  • Destruction of Family structure

  • Lack of parenting skills

  • Relocation & Assimilation

  • Racism/ viewed as 2nd class

  • Spiritual prohibition

  • Loss of culture

  • Alcoholism, domestic violence, high suicide

  • rates among our young, all forms of abuse.

Boarding schools2

Boarding Schools

  • Native American boarding schools in the United States were seen as the means for the government to achieve assimilation of American Indians, which it believed was the best way for them to live in the changing society. By having the children in boarding schools, they could be educated together in majority culture. The boarding schools separated American Indians from non-Indian students.

Boarding schools3

Boarding Schools

  • There were over five hundred Indian boarding schools across this continent. As mentioned previously twenty-six of them were operated by the government with Carlisle being the model for all of them, the residential schools in Canada included.

  • The philosophy was the same for all residential schools ~ Kill the Indian, save the man!

  • Kill the Indian, and Save the Man: Capt. Richard H. Pratt on the Education of Native Americans

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  • Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools is a 2004 book by Ward Churchill. It traces the history of removing Native American children from their homes to residential schools (in Canada) or Indian boarding schools (in the USA) as part of government policies, 1880s-1980s, which the author views as genocidal.

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By 1900 thousands of Native Americans were studying at almost 150 boarding schools around the United States. The U.S. Training and Industrial School founded in 1879 at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, was the model for most of these schools. Boarding schools like Carlisle provided vocational and manual training and sought to systematically strip away tribal culture. They insisted that students drop their Indian names, forbade the speaking of native languages, and cut off their long hair. Not surprisingly, such schools often met fierce resistance from Native American parents and youth.

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But some Indian young people responded positively, or at least ambivalently, to the boarding schools, and the schools also fostered a sense of shared Indian identity that transcended tribal boundaries. The following excerpt (from a paper read by Carlisle founder Capt. Richard H. Pratt at an 1892 convention) spotlights Pratts pragmatic and frequently brutal methods for civilizing the savages, including his analogies to the education and civilizing of African Americans.

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Excerpt (from a paper read by Carlisle founder Capt. Richard H. Pratt at an 1892 convention):

A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.

Boarding schools4

Boarding Schools

  • Native American children in the boarding schools reached a peak in the 1970s, with an estimated enrollment of 60,000 in 1973.

  • Especially through investigations of the later twentieth century, there have been many documented cases of sexual, physical and mental abuse occurring at such schools.

  • By 2007, the number of Native American children in boarding schools had declined to 9,500.

Boarding schools5

Boarding Schools

  • A similar system in Canada was known as the Canadian residential school system.

  • On June 11, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a 3,600-word formal apology to First Nation, Mtis and Inuit people for the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, which he called a "sad chapter in our history."

  • The United States government has not issued any acknowledgement of this atrocity to date nor any apology.

Boarding schools in michigan



    Destroyed family system

    Abuse of various forms

    Education trained for lower class jobs

    Loss of culture & language


    Loss of spirituality & ceremony, identity & abuse of all forms occurred there.

Mt pleasant government boarding school

Mt Pleasant Government Boarding School

On January 3, 1893, the U.S. government opened an Indian boarding school at Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. It offered a nine-year program, beginning with kindergarten. By 1911 the Mt. Pleasant school had eleven buildings, including

both the girls and boys dormitories.

Hearing stories today about

this school is both touching

& painful ~ i.e., my mother

described it educational while

My dad described it as brutal.

Resistance to the boarding schools

Resistance to the Boarding Schools

  • If the Great Spirit had desired meto be a white manhe would have made me sointhe first place.He put in your heartcertainwishes and plans;in my heart he putother and different desires.Each man is goodin the sight of the Great Spirit.It is not necessary, that eagles should be crows."..Sitting Bull (Teton Sioux)

  • the Hopi surrendered the men to a prison rather than have their children sent away from their families.

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Some Indian parents opposed sending their children away to learn "the white man's ways." However, the poverty & hopelessness of living on reservations (or Indian settlements) led other parents to hope that these boarding schools promised their children a better life. However, most of the time the government took Indian children & forced them to attend the school miles away so the parents could not afford to visit them.

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English was the school's official language, and students might have their mouth washed out with soap if they spoke their native Indian language.

Violating the rules led to punishment, which could be harsh. Sometimes students were beaten with a strap or rubber hose. Some endured the school; others ran away.

The Mt. Pleasant Indian School closed in 1933.

Holy childhood catholic boarding school harbor springs

Holy Childhood Catholic Boarding School, Harbor Springs

This Indian school was founded in 1829 by Father Pierre Dejean. The Indians built a church and the first school building, a hewn-log structure 46' by 20'. The school was both a boarding and day school, with 25 boarders in its initial enrollment of 63 Indian boys and girls, who were taught, in French, the three "R's" and vocational skills. The original intent was described as good in order to provide Indian children an education.

Holy childhood catholic boarding school harbor springs1

Holy Childhood Catholic Boarding School, Harbor Springs

  • Father Frederic Baraga came in 1831 , the future "Apostle of the Ottawas and Chippewas. Catholicism was taught.

  • Students were also encouraged to take a Christian name in place of their Indian name.

  • Abuses occurred here also & loss of culture & spirituality.

  • The school was torn down in 2007

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Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart found a distinct link between Historical Trauma & the Jewish Holocaust.

Brave Heart suspected that, like the children of Jewish Holocaust survivors, generations of Americans Indians have suffered from what happened to their ancestors, i.e., trauma & Grief is passed on to children & grandchildren of survivors; which continues today through alcohol-related accidents, homicide, and suicide. Sometimes referred to as Blood Memory or unresolved grief.

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  • She also discusses what internalized

  • oppression is and how people start identifying with the oppressor, which results in self-hatred and hatred of others like oneself. In our communities we have a lot of lateral oppression, lateral violence people hurting other community members and placing aggression on to one another.

  • Freires theory is that its dangerous to direct aggression at the oppressor. Since the aggression has to go somewhere, it goes out toward others like you. It also can go within and people suffer from depression and anxiety.*

  • * Paulo FreiresPedagogy of the Oppressed

Historical trauma alcohol

Historical Trauma & Alcohol

  • Use of alcohol was used as a political tool, economic and sexual exploitation

  • Drinking patterns began to emerge as a problem binge drinking, violent behavior

  • Increased as conflicts, small pox & other diseases, broken treaties, loss of land, forced relocation, poverty & utter demoralization

  • Myths also began to emerge, i.e. Drunken Indian



  • How Historical Trauma still impacts us today:

    • High rates of alcoholism/addiction

    • PTSD referred as Post-Colonial Stress Disorder (PCSD)

    • Depression

    • Anxiety

    • Suicide Rates high

    • Abuse of all forms: physical, sexual, domestic violence

    • Breakdown of family systems Boarding School Syndrome

    • Loss of culture, language, spirituality

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According to a past report by the Dept. of Justice the Native American population still experiences a mortality rate that is 400 per cent higher than any other population, indicating unique to this population.

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Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart:

Once you recognize where these emotions come from, then you can find a healthy way to deal with them. We believe that our traditional cultural and spiritual ways have natural ways to help people do that. They were very wise in that way.

The healing we experience also heals our ancestors.

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  • Clinicians:

  • When you discover you have a Native American in your office:

  • In the assessment process, wait patiently for them to answer the questions. NA tend to have a longer pause time in response to questions. Rapid-fire asking of questions will turn them off. NA tend to observe, check you out first or consider how much they want to share with you. Remember, because of our history with officials we dont trust you, even more than the regular alcoholic or addict.

  • Expecting them to look you in the eye could be a sign of disrespect.

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Things to remember when working the Native American client:

Tribe ask what tribe they are. They may or may not know because of our history. This is especially true in an urban area where there are many tribal people. There are over 500 tribes to consider; weve just discussed the 3 main tribes here in Michigan. In an urban area you will probably see many different tribal people that are not from Michigan. If they are familiar with their tribal heritage, ask them to share it with you. If they dont know, they may feel some shame about it because this was possibly passed down from their parents or grandparents.

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Remember the language was taken from them or were told they were savages or drunken Indians or other discriminatory things.

Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well here in Michigan and many of us can recall discrimination or racist remarks.

I remember up to the 1950s -60s Indians could not be served in some places, i.e. the local tavern or bar. I remember being spit upon as an 8-yr little girl, imagine the traumatic scar that left upon me! This was a common occurrence for many of us.

So trust is a major issue you will have to deal with and how you do so will reflect if you are successful with this client.

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  • Ideas for Social Workers & Therapists

  • Increase cultural sensitivity

  • -- Research personal historical trauma

  • -- Attend community activities

  • -- Know your community resources

  • -- Assessments ask about boarding school, did

  • parents attend, etc.

  • Spiritual Healing

  • Encourage seeking cultural roots and/or

  • ceremonies for restoration of identity.

  • Story telling

  • Acknowledging the pain and sharing it is

  • healing.

Recovery concepts


  • Recovery is like a fire; someone has to start it. From The Honour of All, the 1985 Alkali Lake Video

  • The community is the treatment center.

  • Indianizing Alcoholics Anonymous

  • Red Road Philosophy Gene Thin Elk

  • Wellbriety Movement Don Coyhis

The anishnaabe life

The Anishnaabe Life

  • The fundamental essence of Anishnaabe life is unity. The oneness of all things. In our view history is expressed in the way that life is lived each day. Key to this is the belief that harmony with all created things has been achieved. The people cannot be separated from the land with its cycle of seasons or from the other mysterious cycles of living things of birth and growth and death and new birth. The people know where they come from.

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  • The story is deep in their hearts. It has been told in legends and dances, in dreams and in symbols. It is in the songs a grandmother sings to the child in her arms and in the web of family names, stories, and memories that the child learns as he or she grows older. above all of the long, stubborn struggle through which the Anishnaabe tried to preserve their own ways and their own identity.

  • Helping your client to find his or her way back to this philosophy is a slow process but it is a rewarding one.

Anishnaabe way s

Anishnaabe Ways

  • Use of Anishnaabek culture and teachings as a way to support recovery:

    • Medicine Wheel concept (coupled with 12 Step philosophy), Talking Circles

    • Use of ceremonies: Indian name (important for Identity), prayer lodge, Sacred Fires

    • Learning the 7 Grandfather/Grandmother Teachings & apply to recovery

    • Other cultural teachings: pow-wows, Ghost Suppers, solstice times, Creation Story & other storytelling experiences, Sacred plants, Clan system

    • Laughter is good

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Step 10

Step 11

Step 12

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 7

Step 8

Step 9



Step 4

Step 5

Step 6


Sacred plants

Sacred Plants

  • Ceremonial purposes, personal

  • Specific teachings

  • Sage cleansing, purification

  • Sweetgrass smoke, purification, balance

  • Tobacco prayer offering, pipe, bundles

  • Cedar cleansing, cedar oil, cedar water

Tobacco sema

Tobacco - Sema

Cedar cedar oil

CedarCedar oil

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Sweet grass weengush

Sweet Grass - Weengush

Seven grandfather grandmother teachings

Seven Grandfather/Grandmother Teachings

  • LOVE







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  • To know Love is to know peace

  • Who better to teach us about love than a child with their hand reaching out to us they accept us in their unconditional love

  • Listening to each other, helping each other, sharing with each other is the Anishnaabe way



  • Learning about how to respect yourself in recovery as we learn to respect our family & others one day at a time

  • The fire teaches us respect we can cook our food, it lights up our night but fire can also destroy if proper care is not given

  • To honor all of the creation = Respect



  • First step in recovery is being honest about ourselves and acknowledging we need help

  • Facing a situation in honesty is healing

  • The butterfly teaches us life is a continuous metamorphosis if we are honest with ourselves - removing our own caterpillar guise we too can become free free as the butterfly



  • The eagle has become for the Anishnaabek a symbol of truth and strength therefore holding an eagle feather in our hand gives us a huge responsibility for our voice

  • Hence, holding an eagle feather in a Talking Circle we speak our truth

  • To know all these things is deep within

  • To know who we are starts to surface in recovery



  • Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation we are but a grain of sand in creation doing our part

  • As we enter our space to be in union with our Creator and Mother Earth we open our inner doorway to our own Sacredness which is beyond our understanding - It is to be touched by the Creator

  • Accepting ourselves just as we are



  • To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom

  • The turtle teaches us wisdom we seek wisdom from our elders but yet sometimes wisdom comes through a child if we remain open to the voice of our youth

  • The inner knowing of who we are following our heart our path

  • Prayer & meditation leads us to wisdom



  • To face the foe (sometimes it is within ourselves) with integrity

  • The hummingbird teaches us of bravery she will go up against a bear if the bear is threatening her babies the hummingbird will attack the bear with her long needle-like beak until the bear retreats

  • To see clearly what alcoholism/addiction has done to us = bravery



  • Naming Ceremonies (describes your characteristics, i.e., helpful, etc; your role in the community; defines your purpose in life)

  • Talking Circles decision-making process; used in therapy to regain what we lost in addiction

  • Smudge smoke in a sacred way

  • Cherish sacred items

Access to recovery aniishnaabek healing circle

  • Sweat Lodge prayer; led by spiritual person; traditionally it was primarily male due to alcoholism the male forgot their responsibilities to the sweat lodge & women assumed the responsibilities of the lodge to maintain the health of the community. This is the reason that today there are mixed lodges in honor of the women for what they did for us. This is a cleansing ceremony.

  • Sacred Fires primarily used whenever there is a ceremony, for when one walks on, resembles the sun in winter.

Access to recovery aniishnaabek healing circle


All we do in recovery as we discover ourselves whether through the 12 Step process, finding church, tribal traditional ways or ceremonial ways or a combination both or through nature is all spiritual. Each must find their own spiritual path. If they are earnestly seeking they will find it. It takes time, it does not come overnight or quickly (like most of us want). Each must define their own spirituality for themselves. Treating ourselves and others with Respect is spirituality.

Books of reference

Books of Reference

  • Alcohol Problems in Native America Don L. Coyhis & William L. White

  • Healing Through Art Zoey Wood-Salomon

  • People of the Three Fires James A. Clifton, George L. Cornell, James M. McClurken

  • The Mishomis Book Edward Benton-Banai

  • Internet



  • Anishnaabek Healing Circle Access to Recovery project website:

  • Anishinaabek Access To Recovery, click on ATR on Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc website:


  • Anishinaabemowin, Learn the Anishinaabe Language:

Access to recovery aniishnaabek healing circle


  • Earl Meshigaud, Hannahville Elder

  • Jim McClurken, Historian & Our Friend

  • Jim Pigeon, Gun Lake Cultural Advisor

  • Inter-Tribal Council ATR Staff

I do what i do because

I do what I do because.

  • My grandchildren, for the children, especially Anishnaabek children

  • To help break the cycle of addiction in our community

  • To promote Mno-Bimaadziwin a Good Life

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