Historical Trauma and Unresolved Grief
• Related resource: Historical Trauma PowerPoint
Social work professor Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart, Ph.D., defines historical trauma as “a cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma experiences.” According to her, such wounding gives rise to historical unresolved grief. A person or community does not have to be conscious of unresolved grief to be affected by it.
The story of Native Americans’ historical trauma may be familiar to you. But you may not have thought much about the connection between that story and certain present-day relationships—for example, those of tribal governments and Indian people with California’s social work and justice communities.
The following pages are designed to make clearer the connections between past and present.