A quarterly publication of the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs (OEMA)
August 2010


Is there such a thing as indigenous mental health? Implications for research, education, practice and policy-making in psychology

By Carlota Ocampo, PhD

In consideration of the extraordinary high prevalence of mental health and substance abuse problems among many indigenous peoples, as well as the associated relative ineffectiveness of standard mental health practices, a call is made for “evidenced-based, culturally relevant health practices that emerge from a constructionist framework rooted in Indigenous psychologies”. Such practices would address the major themes of identity/self, historical trauma, cultural-specific mental health and well-being practices, cultural mistrust, empowerment, and political action.

The Chamorro people of Guam

By Patricia L. G. Taimanglo, PhD

Presents an overview of the colonial history and culture of the Chamarro people of Guam. Discusses the psychological implications and responses of the Chamarro to this history — with emphasis placed on the current effort to relocate (by 2014) U.S. Marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, and associated support services and personnel, which would result in increasing Guam’s population by 80,000 persons (i.e., 45%).

Unbodies of water: The health effects of extinction and genocide — Arawak perspectives1

By M. C. L. Provost and M. Quintana

It is noted that the Arawak people (indigenous people of the Caribbean, northern South America, Central America, and southern North America) are generally viewed to be extinct. But the authors argue otherwise: The Arawak and their descendents are “zombified” (the living dead) due to negative effects of colonialism — especially its rupture of the home-family culture and socialization to an alien one. Strategies for reclaiming Arawak culture and health are discussed.

Pivotal protocols: The spirit dimension in indigenous and western psychologies

By Suzan McVicker, MA

Describes the perspective of many indigenous people of a permeable boundary between the seen physical world and that of unseen spirits, and the centrality of this perspective to indigenous mental health and well-being. The author describes and makes a case for concurrent treatment protocols for American Indians where “trust is rebuilt between practitioner groups with two epistemologies, American Indian healers and Western psychologists [and] best practices may occur side-by-side”.

Legislative efforts to eliminate native-themed mascots, nicknames, and logos: Slow but steady progress post-APA resolution

By Jesse A. Steinfeldt, PhD, Lisa Rey Thomas, PhD, and Mattie R. White, MS

Notes that since the adoption of the 2005 APA Resolution recommending the immediate retirement of American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations, there has been an increase of AI/AN psychologists who are developing research partnerships with Native communities that are responsive to their needs and concerns, including racism, stereotypes, prejudice and mascots. Also describes a recent state (Wisconsin) complimentary extension of the APA resolution and increased that provides a fair process to address the use of race-based mascots in public schools and enables consideration of pertinent scientific evidence of harm.

Wuyámush (be happy, be well – Pequot): Adapting a mental health and healing experience to a southeast New England Native American community

By Gretchen Chase Vaughn, PhD, and Michele Scott, BA

Provides an overview of cultural adaptation of a children's mental health awareness event in a southeastern New England Native American community. The event simultaneously exposed the Native American community to mental health/healing practices while introducing providers to indigenous culture.

Honoring children, making relatives: Indigenous traditional parenting practices compatible with evidence-based treatment

By Dolores Subia BigFoot, PhD, and Beverly W. Funderburk, PhD

Describes how the Indian Child Trauma Center transformed evidenced-based Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) protocols to be responsive and honor American Indian/Alaska Native traditional beliefs of both well-being and appropriate parenting practices.