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February 13, 2023
Seminar Title: Imaiyạchi: Transcending Historical Trauma and Living Ancestral Visions Imagined for Us as Native Women
Presenter: Dr. Karina Walters, Professor, Katherine Hall Chambers Scholar, Co-Director, IWRI, University of Washington, School of Social Work
Dr. Karina L. Walters (MSW, Ph.D) is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is a Katherine Hall Chambers University Professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work, an adjunct Professor in the Department of Global Health, School of Public Health, and the Co-Director of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) at the University of Washington. Dr. Walters has over 25 years of experience in social epidemiological research on the social determinants of Native American and Two-Spirit health well as expertise in designing culturally derived chronic disease prevention studies (substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and diabetes prevention). She has written landmark papers in the field of traumatic stress and health, historical and intergenerational trauma, and developed the Indigenist Stress-Coping model. Methodologically, she has expertise in Indigenist methodologies and in designing community and land-based, culturally derived interventions. Dr. Walters has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator on over 34 NIH studies (22 as PI) from diverse NIH institutes. Dr. Walters received her B.A. (sociology) in 1987, her M.S.W. in 1990, and her Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to UW, Dr. Walters served on faculty at Columbia University School of Social Work (1995-2001).
Talk Summary: American Indian community discourse suggests that historical trauma can potentially become embodied in risk behaviors and that these factors may play a significant role in present-day health inequities. Historical trauma which consists of traumatic events targeting a community that cause catastrophic upheaval, have been posited by Native communities to have pernicious intergenerational effects through a myriad of mechanisms from biological to behavioral. Consistent with our tribal systems of knowledge, it is critical that we identify health promotion approaches rooted in the strengths of our tribal knowledges and vision of life, wellness, and health held for us by our ancestors in designing health promotion interventions- particularly those interventions that address historical trauma. This presentation provides an overview of innovations in designing culturally derived health promotion approaches to addressing historical trauma and transcending the trauma with a particular focus on American Indian and Alaska Native women. Specifically, this presentation will describe the Yappalli Choctaw Road to Health, a culturally focused, strengths-based outdoor experiential obesity-substance abuse risk prevention and health leadership program designed to develop 150 Choctaw women health leaders throughout Choctaw territory. Highlights include our theoretical innovation in creating a Choctaw-specific health promotion model for behavioral change grounded in our ancient teachings and the vision that our ancestors held for us in transcending historical trauma.