Lakota Mental Health First Aid Program
PENNINGTON COUNTY, S.D. — Participants in a Lakota Mental Health First Aid Program are learning how to heal mental health issues, spiritually.
Pennington County State’s Attorney sponsored a mental health course with I Am Legacy, incorporating Lakota teachings as a method of healing. The four sessions are based on laws such as compassion, humility, respect and more.
Ethleen Iron Cloud Two Dogs, Trained Instructor, said “How do you put those into action when people have experienced trauma? We call on our relatives; the sage. (Oglala Lakota) we call on our relatives the water. We call on each others spirit to extend ourselves to that person.”
The state’s attorney has also sponsored a similar program at the Pennington County Jail. Seven Directions also includes healing through Lakota culture capitalizing on cultural teachings as a way to reduce substance abuse and incarcerations.
Bre Jackson, Pennington County State’s Attorney, said “I think living in urban areas as Native Americans is difficult because we lose a lot of these teachings, and then it’s easy to forget about them. So this serves as a constant reminder of these lessons and it’s not necessarily a religion, just a way of life and it helps me connect with our diversion participants.”
One practice, used at the first session on Thursday, was calling on ancestors for guidance. Another, respecting relationships, addressing friends, family by their familial name. Sage burning and prayer is used in both mental health aid and healing inmates at county jail.
“Whenever we take on negative things like drinking, drug use or even if we’re around it then we take on that residue, a spiritual residue, of whatever negative there is. So it is real important to call on our relatives, the sage, to purify ourselves.” said Ethleen.
Ethleen has experience working with teens involved in substance abuse. Tending to the spirit along with the mind and emotions is her preferred approach for treatment.
“I sought spiritual guidance on that and the guidance that was given to do certain things for the spirit of the youth because the spirit wound was what was driving the trauma, what was driving the drinking, the drug use.” said Ethleen.
For more information on the training visit the I Am Legacy Facebook page HERE.