ONISITOOTUMOWIN KEHTE-AYAK (The Understanding of the Old Ones) Of Healing from Addiction
LaVallie, Carrie Leanne
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Colonization and assimilation processes deteriorated access to maskihkiy (medicine) that act as protective factors to help work toward pimatisiwin (in a good way/good life). Exposure to generational trauma and layers of racism may be considered disruptive factors metaphorically depicted as maci-maskihkiy (bad medicine). These disruptive factors create achak (spirit) distress that is expressed through addiction. Using Indigenous methodologies to decolonize addiction research, knowledge about healing was constructed with five Indigenous Kehte-ayak (Old Ones, knowledge keepers) who answered the question, What do Kehte-ayak have to say about the relevance of harmonizing Indigenous ceremonial practices and western-based treatment approaches to meet inherent spiritual needs in healing from addictions. Four Cree Kehte-ayak were chosen who utilize Indigenous and western ways to support n’duwihitowin (healing together) and one Kehtehi (Old One) was chosen to translate concepts into Cree. Through a process of relationship building, I spent time identifying intention, attending ceremony, having conversations, and reflecting on the data to create ethical space to privilege the voices of the Kehte-ayak. Data was Reflexively Reflected upon by uniting current neuroscientific theories with respected Indigenous practices offered by the Kehte-ayak. Through metaphors from the teachings, the Kehte-ayak identified that the disruptive factor of maci-maskihkiy produces waneneetumowin (distressed) achak and then fosters closing off the achak connection. Effective addiction work should focus on nugaska (stopping and confronting) addiction by ‘calling the achak back’ and strengthening neurological regulation through Indigenous cultural methods. Harmonizing effective Indigenous and western approaches creates opportunities for n’duwihitowin (healing together), which is used to build spiritual grounded maskihkiy to nugaska addiction and to call the achak back, key in pimatisiwin for all.