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Historical trauma and cultural healing: Video series

What is historical trauma? How do people and communities experience it? And how can reconnecting to cultural practices help families and communities heal?

Genocide. Slavery. Forced relocation. Destruction of cultural practices.

These experiences, shared by communities, can result in cumulative emotional and psychological wounds that are carried across generations. Researchers and practitioners call this concept historical trauma.

The effects of the traumas inflicted on groups of people because of their race, creed, and ethnicity linger on the souls of their descendants. As a result, many people in these same communities experience higher rates of mental and physical illness, substance abuse, and erosion in families and community structures. The persistent cycle of trauma destroys family and communities and threatens the vibrancy of entire cultures.

Historical trauma is not just about what happened in the past. It's about what's still happening.

Video discussion questions

These questions are meant as discussion starters following viewing of the video above. These are not meant as a comprehensive list; rather, they provide a variety of starter questions that facilitators may choose from and, as appropriate, add in additional questions specific to the field in which they work.

In this brief three-part video series, you can learn about:


Learn more about historical trauma

Historical Trauma Book List (PDF) — See our book list of relevant texts that explore the complexities of historical trauma from a variety of diverse perspectives.

Historical Trauma Research Article List (PDF) — Research articles that examine historical trauma and cultural healing.

Presentations from researchers and professionals on historical trauma and cultural healing (PDF).

Microaggressions (PDF) — List of books and articles covering the research on microaggressions.

Historical Trauma eReview (PDF) — For more on historical trauma and cultural healing, read CYFC’s children’s mental health eReview and a summary of this issue (PDF)

"When you think about healing, do not underestimate your ability to be an agent of change."

— Jessica Gourneau, Ph.D.

Related resources

Trauma informed and historical trauma informed care training for supervisors — An educational presentation from Maria Yellow Horse Braveheart, PhD, a behavioral health leading expert in Native American historical trauma research. 

Community based solutions to the opioid crisis in rural Minnesota — Resources to learn about opioid use, prevention, treatment and long-term recovery support in rural Minnesota. 

Remembering Resilience — Listen to this podcast series on Native American resilience through and beyond trauma. 

The Wellbriety Journey to Forgiveness — This documentary explores intergenerational trauma in Native communities and culturally based healing. 

Reviewed by Cari Michaels, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

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