St. Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute
On the weekend of August 19-21, 2022, Kateri Northwest Ministry Institute hosted a retreat at the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center in Spokane, WA, in collaboration with the Native Wellness Institute. The retreat was focused on Intergenerational Trauma and Healing. The participants of the Kateri Program have been discussing this topic in light of the discoveries at the boarding schools in Canada, and with the United States coming to a reckoning of its own past boarding school history. The Kateri members wanted a forum to discuss the historical trauma and the resulting dysfunction that is so prevalent in Native communities, and ways for their families to heal from this past trauma. The timing of this retreat was very appropriate, as Pope Francis had recently made his visit to Canada to apologize to the Indigenous people for the abuses suffered by Native children who were in the care of Catholic priests and sisters.
There were approximately sixty people that came from different regions of the Northwest to attend this retreat, plus five more that joined in on Zoom. There were Native people, Jesuits, and others who minister within Native communities that came from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. LoVina Louie, one of the trainers from the Native Wellness Institute, and her mom Jeanie Louie, the Cultural Director for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and a boarding school survivor, led the discussions during the retreat. The mother-daughter team began with looking at the historical wounds of persecution, abuse, and relocation of Native Peoples and how that kind of cultural trauma manifests itself through the generations. There were numerous stories told of how this intergenerational trauma reveals itself in various negative personal characteristics. For example, one can say, “Why are our people the way they are? Look at what happened in our history!” We were then encouraged to face our own personal traits that could cause us to feed the dysfunction in our families and communities, and finally to adopt strategies that help us to heal ourselves and one another. There were numerous activities that were a part of the weekend, such as Talking Circles and interactive activities that encouraged collaboration and positive thinking. We prayed together, we laughed together, we talked with one another, and we all became part of this process of working towards the goal of becoming balanced spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. All in all, it was a time together that inspired us to have an understanding of the historical trauma in our communities and to move forward toward wellness by bringing about positive change and healing in our personal lives, in our families, and in our tribes.