Kainai Studies Program Helps Heal AbuseMay 15th, 2003 | By mweaselfat | Category: 14-4: Cultural Resilience, Tribal College News
At Red Crow Community College in Cardston, Alberta, Canada, the newly established Diploma in Kainai Studies explores the tribal history; language; social and economic development; and cultural, spiritual, and artistic fundamentals. The program is designed to help the people regain control of the traditional ways of the Blackfoot First Nation.
“Elders, traditional leaders and educators want relevant development of curriculum to deal with our rapid loss of language,” said Narcisse Blood, coordinator of Kainai Studies. The community-based Kainai Studies program focuses on preserving the worldview contained in the language. The program has evolved over 20 years from Blackfoot Language Studies at the high school into a four-year Kainai Studies degree.
“Our Blackfoot cultural knowledge was passed down through traditional ways of parenting, through extended family and friends, and through the spiritual societies. Mainstream society taught irrelevant curriculum to our people; it was European centered and very self-serving,” said Blood.
The goal of Kainai Studies is to teach, research, and find solutions to recent problems caused by the rapid changes in society. The program reinforces the proper view the ancestors had, which builds resilience in the people of Kainaiwa. The tribe has some very valuable resources in the elders who maintain their ways despite government attempts at assimilation.
For instance, in the course on Kainai Family Structure and Parenting the focus is on residential school experience’s effect on contemporary Kainai families, including family violence and lack of parenting and coping skills. The course also covers traditional parenting practices, family structure, and other support structures. Student Anne Fox said she learned about abuse in the residential school system and found out that hers is the fifth generation affected by it.
“That is where we really lost our parenting skills. People used alcohol and drugs to cover the pain,” she said. Students researched family history, and elders came into classroom, enabling students like Fox to ask questions about how it was in the past, about elders’ residential school experiences, and how it is now. The students used healing circles and one-on-one healing sessions with their instructors. “The unique aspect of the course is that it is for Bloods and it is taught by Bloods,” concluded Fox.
For more information on this program, and its successes in healing abuse encountered in Canadian Indian residential schools, contact Mary Weasel Fat at (403) 737-2400 or e-mail her at <email@example.com>.