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Noor Borbieva

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Historical trauma plays a critical role in the development of a culture. In my poster, I explore the role religious rituals play in psychological healing through a case study of the traumatic past of the Shawnee tribe in Oklahoma. I discuss the repercussions of unresolved grief and trauma, the role of the Shawnee religion in responding to trauma, and the healing potential of religious dance practices. Inspired by my experience of living on the Eastern Shawnee Reservation in Wyandotte, OK, for three months, my poster draws on ethnographic data and empirical research. I ask: How do rituals practiced by the Shawnee Tribe restore cultural identity and heal psychological injuries caused by a traumatic past? Carl G. Jung views religion as an adaptive reaction to difficult feelings, particularly when developing and understanding individual identity within society. Jung’s work, On the Psychology of the Trickster Figure, examines American Indian mythology as a means of coping with and personifying internal dissonance or the rejected self (Jung 1890: 195). Unresolved trauma diminishes one’s sense of integration within the body and alters the physiology and functioning of the emotional response system within the brain (Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell 2017: 39). Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell investigates modern psychological models of interoception and Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). Dance Movement Therapy is a modality used by psychologists in a clinical setting to heal, reprocess, and reintegrate one’s sense of interoception (Dieterich-Hartwell 2017:39). Available research suggests that dance, drumming, and music regulate the overactive emotional alarm system that is characteristic of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Dieterich-Hartwell 2017: 39). Interoception is the awareness of one’s moment to moment sensate and emotional experience and plays a key role in rewiring the neural pathways that are forged during trauma (Dieterich- Hartwell 2017: 38). The Shawnee live with the memory of previous traumatic events, specifically cultural genocide through violent removals and forced assimilation (Talbot 2006: 11). Shawnee dances incorporate singing, rhythm, and coordinated movements (Jackson 2017: 241) and the dance ritual’s sensory richness fosters a safe environment in which tribal members can vocalize, move, and commune in harmony. In the poster, I draw on extensive ethnographic data to argue the Shawnee religious dances promote psychological healing of trauma by embodying key components of DMT and thereby fostering interoception. Dieterich-Hartwell,Rebekka. (2017). Dance/movement therapy in the treatment of post-traumatic stress: Areferencemodel. The Arts In Psychotherapy, 5438-46. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2017.02.010 Jackson, Jason. (2003). The Opposite of Powwow: Ignoring and Incorporating the IntertribalWar Dance in theOklahoma Stomp DanceCommunity. Plains Anthropologist, 48(187), 237-253. Jung, Carl. (1890). On the Psychology of the Trickster Figure. Talbot, Steve. (2006). Spiritual Genocide: The Denial of American Indian Religious Freedom, from Conquest to 1934.Wicazo SaReview, 21(2),. 7–39., doi:10.1353/wic.2006.00


Anthropology | Psychology

Healing a Traumatic Past: Shawnee Rituals as a Therapeutic Modality