Exploring Traditional Paths
By Rupert Ross
Publisher: Penguin Canada; First Edition (2014)
ISBN-10: 0143191101, ISBN-13: 978-0143191100
Indigenous Healing provides a long term and in-depth understanding of the destabilizing effects of colonization that cuts across generations of Native Americans, whether in Canada or the United States. Of particular salience is the impact of residential schools on children which destroyed their attachments to parents, families, communities, and culture. The impact is still far-reaching, spreading sexual abuse, alcoholism, and depression throughout aboriginal reserves across Canada. The terror of residential schools was so profound, and its impact so broad, that some victims believe they developed a criminal (vs. religious) mentality that eventually acclimated them to prison environments which were experienced as more positive than the church schools. In essence, the boarding school experience was the equivalent of a concentration camp for children. No wonder the results can’t be shaken easily and the impact continues generations later. Rupert Ross believes the answer is “decolonization therapy,” a healing process that restores traditional indigenous beliefs, rituals, and ceremonies. Shamans would likely refer to the trauma of colonization as the equivalent of a soul loss, and the treatment requires a soul retrieval, a homecoming of sorts.
Rupert Ross is also the author of Returning to the Teachings, which showcased the healing powers of indigenous “medicines,” the old sacred customs that have been applied inside and outside courtrooms to treat sexual abuse and family violence. Ross, a prosecuting attorney by training, writes as if he is a professional psychologist. Indigenous Healing provides an understandable summary of complex PTSD. Because trauma often arises from broken relationships, Ross rightly contends that new and corrective relational experiences must be offered in an authentic, humble, non-hierarchical, and reverent therapeutic environment to undo the residual damage from abuse that has persisted over generations. And that healing will occur on the land, not in institutions far removed from home.
—Geral T. Blanchard, reviewed on amazon.com