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2018 Carl A. Scott Memorial Lecturer

Karina Walters

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

Karina L. Walters, PhD
University of Washington

The 2018 Carl A. Scott Memorial Lecture will be presented by Dr. Karina Walters during the 2018 Annual Program Meeting (APM) on Friday, November 9 at 8:45 am. The following is a summary of the lecture, "Imaiyạchi: Transcending Historical Trauma and Living Ancestral Visions Imagined for Us":

American Indian community discourse suggests that historical trauma can become embodied in risk behaviors, and that these factors may play a significant role in present-day health inequities. Historical trauma that consists of traumatic events targeting a community that cause catastrophic upheaval, have been posited by Native communities to have pernicious intergenerational effects through myriad mechanisms from biological to behavioral. Consistent with contemporary societal determinants of health approaches, the impact of historical trauma calls on researchers to explicitly examine theoretically and empirically how these processes become embodied and identify how these factors affect the magnitude and distribution of health disparities. Moreover, consistent with our tribal systems of knowledge, it is critical that we identify health promotion approaches rooted in the strengths of our tribal knowledge and vision of life, wellness, and health held for us by our ancestors in designing health promotion interventions that are sustainable in indigenous communities.

This presentation provides an overview of innovations in social epidemiological approaches to community-based intervention approaches to addressing historical trauma and transcending the trauma. Specifically, after briefly describing innovations in incorporating theories of Indigenous Peoples’ health in designing and developing the historical trauma measure used in the Honor Project, we 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.