such things as hopelessness, economic repression, fear, lack of resources, and isolation, create an ideal breeding ground for the promulgation of violence. For example, Dr. Iris PrettyPaint of Native Aspirations commented that Native Americans do not understand what is meant by “recession” because, for them, it is the norm, sometimes experiencing well over 40 percent unemployment. She also commented that Native Americans are wards of the government, which creates economic dependency. She stated that needing to depend on someone else can be devastating to people.
Culture and Cultural Context
Dr. PrettyPaint summarized the importance of embracing culture in this work, saying “When the cultural context comes into your work . . . it is going to be very natural for you to create things that are beneficial to any culture of people. But you leave out one of them, and you run the risk of people being confused.” Dr. PrettyPaint emphasized that culture confers certain worldviews and norms that need to be heeded.
For example, Native people, especially the elders, view violence as rooted in their own cultural constructs and language of what violence means and represents, and how it impacts their communities. Dr. PrettyPaint stated that when asking Native elders to reflect on violence as contagious they stated that violence was “dangerous . . . we need to find the medicine to heal someone from this [contagion of violence] or protect them from it.” She further noted, “if you communicate that [violence] is incurable, that is not something that I think is in their worldview. [Native elders] don’t believe that; they think there is something somewhere that they can find [to heal it].”
When cultural practices and traditions are removed from the environment of communities and individuals, then violence has a greater chance of causing infection. With respect to Native children, Dr. PrettyPaint emphasized that a journey of forced assimilation creates an environment that helps nurture violence in them. She stated, “these children have lost their ability to know who they are, and they have multiple identities.” When children are removed from their culture, they lose their place or context. Dr. PrettyPaint emphasized the importance of examining the integrity of cultural practices for violence prevention. “Today, we have young people that are relearning how to speak their language. We have tribes that are rewriting their constitutions to open up an enrollment process so that all children living in their community can be enrolled and eligible for health care [and] education.” Thus, this connection to culture and cultural practices helps create a place or meaningful connection of an individual to a