Native American Intergenerational Trauma with Belinda Eriacho

Life’s challenges are actually gifts along our life’s journey towards Hozho, a Navajo way of life that means to walk through life in balance with all living things around us and everything that we do. Our guest is the Belinda Eriachowho comes from a lineage of Diné (Navajo) and Ashwii (Zuni) located in the southwest United States. Belinda talks about the Native American intergenerational trauma and takes us through her own personal healing journey along the corn pollen path of life, love, loss, grief, abuse, healing, illness, and renewal of the self.

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Native American Intergenerational Trauma with Belinda Eriacho

Our guest is the Belinda Eriacho. Belinda comes from a lineage of the Diné, which is known to us as the Navajo and the Ashiwi, which is known to us as the Zuni located in the Southwest of the United States. After a long professional career, Belinda decided to give back to her communities by sharing cultural traditions and life experiences. Through her own personal healing journey along the corn pollen path of life, love, loss, grief, abuse, healing, illness, and renewal of the self, she is able to assist others in the process. She understands life’s challenges and the joys that are presented to us. These challenges are actually gifts along our life’s journey towards Hozho. It is a way of life that means to walk through life in balance with all living things around us in everything that we do. We each have a choice to live a life of happiness and a sense of freedom. Belinda, that’s beautiful. Welcome to the show and it’s an honor to have you with us.

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for allowing me to be on your show.

I’m glad that you agreed to be here. I’m excited to have this conversation. You mentioned the corn pollen path of life. Can you tell us a little bit about that? That’s not a typical language that we hear in Caucasian communities.

Most of the tribes in the southwest are actually corn people. A lot of their sustenance comes from the corn. Because I’m Diné, I follow all my mother’s lineage and we use corn pollen, which comes from the tassel of the corn when we go out and we pray in the morning. When we offer prayers to the holy people, we asked for the blessings of the day and that doesn’t necessarily always mean that they’re good things. We realize that life has its ups and downs. There are lessons that we learned throughout our lives and that is what we mean by the corn pollen path. We take that from a day-to-day standpoint.

I learned similar lessons in some of the biggest challenges that I’ve encountered in my life. Some of the deepest pits I’ve been in have been some of the biggest blessings once you get to the flip side of it. It seems to me that’s what you’re talking about. Belinda, tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you said that you had a long professional career. Reading between the lines, I’m assuming that career was a little unfulfilling because you didn’t talk much about it.

I ended up working as a compliance manager for an investor-owned utility for almost 26 years. What I did for a living is I inspected power plants, everything from nuclear gas, coal. What I was looking for was compliance with requirements, OSHA requirements, our safety and health requirements, environmental, air quality, water quality, management of hazardous waste, etc. That’s what I did for a living. It was a fulfilling career. Any other job when you start to move up the corporate ladder, you have a lot more struggles and challenges. People don’t always see your perspective on things, but it was a rewarding career and allowed me to interface with a lot of professional people at different levels over the organization.

I enjoyed my job. I enjoyed the people that I worked with. It taught me a lot. One of the things to understand is that in a Native American traditional culture, it’s so opposite of the corporate structure wherein our Native American communities, we’re very tightly knit and we know each other. Whereas in a corporate setting, it’s more formal. It’s about the titles. It’s about the different acronyms that you have after your name. Interesting enough, when I started working for this company, I had two sets of business cards. I had a set of business cards that were related to my professional career, my certifications. I had another set of business cards that would have my name. When I went up to work on the reservation at some of our power plants, that’s the card that I use because we were always taught to humble ourselves and who we are as Diné people. That was my way of introducing that into my professional life.

I’m going to language it a little bit differently than you did, but you’re essentially talking about what you can put in the introduction, walking through life and balance. There is a polarity. On one hand, we have the corporate world and on the other hand, there’s a more traditional approach. It’s so important I believe to start to understand different communities and different lineages that people come from. Because of my lineage, I had my DNA tested through 23andMe. I’m all Eastern European some up into Siberia. There’s a little bit into the Asian, but at the same time, almost predominantly European. The hierarchy and the titles that come through my lineage. Not so much the tribal communities. It’s not so much accepted to be who you are. You have to be who you’re told to be in my lineage.

Some of that comes from the patriarchy and the way that that structured. You think about our mothers and their lineage. It’s about caring for the families, caring about the collective. As a native person working in a professional career, it’s having to walk in both worlds. You always hear about walking in two worlds. That’s what that means, understanding who you are and then where your place in the world is and then being able to navigate in between both.

We can’t heal what we don’t talk about. CLICK TO TWEET

That’s been a lesson for me over the last ten years of my life, learning to walk in both worlds. I’ve started to get into smaller communities and have some interactions. Being a Caucasian, I think we have a lot to learn from minorities and people of color and how to walk that line and toe that balance.

The other part is that for a lot of European people that I’ve met, they forgot about their culture. It was not passed down through their parents or their grandparents. Sometimes they struggle with that. Where do I even begin to pick up those pieces and learn about who I am?

That’s absolutely true in my family. A lot of silence whenever I ask questions about those who have come before me, even grandparents who passed before I was born, zip the lips and very little was said about it. I know we were going to talk about intergenerational trauma. I believe it’s something that affects everybody. It’s part of what I call the hidden control panel because it affects the implicit mind, not our cognitive mind. It’s not in our conscious awareness. Can you help us understand what is intergenerational trauma?

One of the things that I would say if there were things that resonate in your audience, if they’re feeling some emotional uneasiness about some of the dialogue that’s happening, I would ask them to get a piece of paper out and jot that down. There’s something there that we can talk about the further we go into this conversation. That would be helpful for them to find some answers to that question. There is a lady by the name of Michelle Sotero. She is from the University of Nevada. She provides a three-part definition of the process of what intergenerational trauma is. This is not only true for Native American people, but also for other people, Europeans that have migrated into the United States. Essentially what happens as the dominant culture, in this case, the US government commits mass trauma upon of people, which are typically the Native Americans.

The second part of that definition, it talks about the Native American people then exhibits physical and psychological symptoms as a result of that trauma that was caused. Finally, what ends up happening is the original people or my ancestors who have experienced this trauma will pass that emotional response onto the next generation. Sometimes it will skip a generation. There are some very interesting studies that were done with Holocaust survivors. They noticed that the same symptoms that the actual individuals who were in the concentration camps have, were recognizable in their grandchildren. There’s some interesting research that we can talk, but that’s essentially what intergenerational trauma is.

I hear the term ancestral trauma a lot. Is there a difference between intergenerational trauma and ancestral trauma or are those terms interchangeable?

If you pull them apart, they blend together. When you think about our ancestors and the trauma that they have experienced, for example, I have a great grandmother who was put in an internment camp as part of trying to force the Navajo people to abide by the government policies. That is ancestral trauma, which she experiences. Intergenerational trauma, what that means is that as a great-grandchild of my grandmother, I may experience symptoms that she experienced as a young child. Fears and not knowing what’s happening to me. For a long time, I had a lot of anger towards angle people. I never knew where that came from. As I started to do my inner healing, I found out and I recognized where it came from as I started to ask questions from my mom about where were my grandparents and what happened to them. I recognize that there was a pattern. That’s what intergenerational trauma is.

I study trauma. I focus on developmental and ancestral issues that come through the lineage. Whenever it comes to trauma, there’s always the discussion of epigenetics, an implicit memory and implicit bias. These are important things. Do you work with implicit memory or actively work with it? Do you even use the term implicit memory? I bet you do work with it.

I don’t use implicit memory. I substitute it as the genetic coding of who we are, American people. I do believe that it exempts. There are a lot of studies. One of the interesting things about epigenetics is that there is a clear indication that emotions do get passed on from a traumatic experience. If you think about our history in general within this country, if you take an event that happened 9/11, and you think about the families that were impacted by that, not only the emergency personnel that responded to that but everyone else who saw. I was reading an article. There was a school close by. The children were watching what was happening outside of their window. You could imagine what that does to a child. Those memories will be instilled in them. They will have those traumatic experiences as they become adults, and not even recognize that. There are some truths to what they’re finding in epigenetics.

Native American Intergenerational Trauma: One of the interesting things about epigenetics is that there is a clear indication that emotions do get passed on from a traumatic experience.

You’ve mentioned a couple of causes. Are there any other causes of intergenerational trauma that you haven’t yet covered?

There are different experiences that Native American people have gone through. When I speak of Native American, I also include the first nations of Canada because that’s one of the things that’s being done. There’s a group of researchers, Duran and Brave Heart. Brave Heart is an indigenous woman who works at the University of New Mexico. She categorizes into six phases. She talks about the first contact. This is when the Europeans came to this country and there was that initial contact to Turtle Island. We call it Turtle Island because when you look at it from afar like a space satellite image, it looks like a turtle. There are some stories of the Native American communities about their origin stories and how that relates to the turtle.

Getting back to the point on the first contact, when the Europeans arrived, they were systematically destroying the native people’s way of life. A lot of times it was around genocidal military actions. One of the biggest problems in healing this wound for Native American and Alaskan native people is that this dark colonial history has never been acknowledged by our government. You hear the Holocaust and how there’s some resolution trying to happen between Germany and hopes there. The other part of this is that the truth of what happened in history has never been written in our history books, at least none of the history books that I’ve learned from. The real truth has never been explained. That covers that aspect under the first contact.

The second part of that was economic competition. In this particular category, native people suffered the loss of sustenance both physically and spiritually. Food sources were destroyed along with their spiritual teachings. An example of this is there was a government policy called a Scorched-Earth policy. This impacted my ancestors on my mom’s side, the Diné people where the cavalry went through and essentially burned all of the crops, their homes, and they’re getting close to winter time. Those as part of the military action to round them up so that they could hurt them to the internment camp. It was in winter. They were running out of food. Their food sources were all gone. This was another action and this happened throughout the United States. The third piece of that is the invasion war period.

This is US policies that were used to exterminate native people across this country. An example that I can come up with, it’s not only the US government but when the Europeans came over in the 1700s, there’s written history of blankets being laced with smallpox that were given out to native people. As you all know, back then there was no cure for smallpox. There were no vaccines. It obliterated a lot of native communities. A lot of those effects don’t happen to individuals. The fourth phase is segregation and the reservation periods where you take an indigenous people who were free to roam as their white settlements started to come in and native people were treated as less than.

What ended up happening is they were forced to live on reservations. A story that I told you about my great grandmother who was put in this internment camp, that was supposed to be the original reservation in New Mexico for Diné and also Apache people. What ends up happening is the government releases them and then allows them to return back to their homeland, only to be forced onto a small piece of reservation land where they were taught to be farmers. The one aspect that’s impacted indigenous people, not only here in the United States but also in Canada is a boarding school period. There is a phrase, “Kill the Indian and save the man.” That was a policy where the government was creating boarding schools in which their intent was to destroy the Native American family structure.

Once that family structure was destroyed, the culture could not continue on or exist. Native American children were forced to be removed from their families and sent off to boarding schools. The most famous one that many people hear out this Carlisle Indian School, which was located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where boys were taught to learn a certain trade and the girls that went to school, they were taught to sew and perform housework. When these children arrived at these boarding schools, they were stripped of their native clothes and they were given colonial-style clothing. Their hair was cut. When a young lady gets her hair cut, to a lot of indigenous people their hair is very sacred because that is a critical time in their life where we have these initiation ceremonies where you go from a child to a young woman. You’re going through your menstruation season.

Your hair is important and it’s a part of that ceremonial that happens. One of the interesting cases that I read was the Hopi people here in the southwest. In 1894, there were nineteen Hopi men that were arrested, put on a train here in Arizona and taken to California and then placed into maximum security at Alcatraz. When we think of Alcatraz, we think of bank robberies, we think of murderers, etc. Their crime is that they rebelled against sending their children to these assimilation boarding schools hundreds of miles away from home. These native children were forbidden to speak their language. They were not allowed to practice any of their traditional ceremonies realizing that many of the children didn’t speak any English.

There are history cases of children being physically abused in order for them to learn the English language. Their given names as children were taken away from them and they were given colonial first and second last names. Children were taught that their own culture was the work of the devil. That’s bringing in that Christianity aspect. They were physically, mentally, sexually and emotionally abused. Native children were also exposed to the cold. They didn’t have the right attire to keep them warm. There was illness, there was disease. Sometimes when these children died in these boarding schools, their family was never informed that their children had passed. It’s a sad experience.

There isn’t a soul that hasn’t had some trauma in their life. CLICK TO TWEET

Some of that continues on. My mom was placed in a boarding school. For me, that impacted me because I was never taught to speak my language because she was afraid that this might happen to us. She never taught us that because that was used as a tool to punish them. The last category as part of this category of events that happened in Native American was forced relocation and termination. This is part of the aspect of placing them on reservations. In addition, one of the things, even up until the 1950s, there was about a 100,000 Native American youth and young people that were sent to urban cities like Denver, Los Angeles.

What the government is trying to do was to assimilate them. They had made promises that they would have a place to stay, to try and get them up on their feet so that they could move on. A lot of times when they showed up, there was nothing there for them. That created a lot of mistrust as you can see for a lot of these events. The bottom line to all of this is that this never allowed for native people to actually heal from that grief. One event would happen and then something else would happen and on top of something else. It’s no wonder we have the situation that we have, high incidents of suicide, alcoholism, etc.

That all make sense and heartbreaking stories. It’s so unfortunate that in our history books, we’ve been given literally a whitewashed version of history. One of the reasons I believe that we as a nation haven’t acknowledged this and done anything to make reparations is because we’re still doing it. They’re not going to fix it. This country is not going to try to fix anything. They’re not going to acknowledge it as long as they’re still participating in behaviors that are harming your communities. When it comes to healing from trauma, healing does not occur when you’re in survival mode. When you have generation after generation, you’re living most of your lives in survival mode.

You’re always in the fight, flight or freeze within your own physiology. That’s not an environment for healing to occur. This constant oppression keeps certain groups of people, the marginalized communities. There are more than just natives. We’ve got the LGBTQIA community. We’ve got our Muslim communities. Many of them, anything that’s non-Caucasian, there’s something going on. It’s not fair. It’s so overwhelming to talk about sometimes. I know you’ve alluded to this a bit in your story, but I’m wondering if you’d get a little bit more personal. How has all of this affected you personally? What’s been your personal experience through the trauma, healing and awakening?

There are a lot of effects that come from intergenerational trauma. For me, my life has been touched by substance abuse from family members. My father died from alcoholism, primarily from cirrhosis of the liver. I have other family members that have been impacted by that. One of the things that I recognize as I start to read through history and my own personal experiences that are a lot of our men people have forgotten their roles as native men. They’re supposed to be the ones that are the protectors, the providers. Because of all of these experiences that happened, they’ve lost a sense of who they are. I mentioned about my great grandmother, who was one who rides with the scout.

She was put in an internment camp and that’s where she was born. She eventually was released. It took them two years to walk back to their homelands. Within my family and even my own self, I’ve had chronic health conditions where I’ve had to deal with the stress not only in my personal life. When you live and you work in a corporate setting, that can ignite and flare-up some of those memories that are in your body. I spoke to the issue about boarding schools and how that has impacted my family with my mom going to boarding schools. There are a lot of different aspects of historical events, even though they’re in the past, they still affect me and then my community that I work with.

Something a lot of our audiences are going to be able to resonate with. You said something to the effect of being in a corporate environment can cause some of this stuff to come up. What did you experience surfacing when you were in a corporate environment? A lot of my audience are in that environment and might be experiencing signs and symptoms that they’re not aware of that is related to trauma or even intergenerational issues.

One of the things for me that was very difficult was when I was in that corporate setting, I was the only female sitting in a room of men. When you’re talking about utility industry, and I was the only Native American and I’m trying to tell them what it is that they needed to do to get in compliance with regulatory requirements. A lot of times, they didn’t like that. It was having to dig deep in myself and try to find out what are those things that I was willing to let go of versus those things that were critical to managing the business. In terms of stress, they were long hours. I spend a lot of time on the road and there’s this expectation in the corporate world that you have to produce. Sometimes at the cost of your health, which is eventually what happened to me. I ended up getting a bad case of systemic lupus and to the point where my body was shutting down.

I had to be hospitalized for about fourteen days in order for them to get to a place where they could stop that reaction. It took me probably three or four months to even get back on my feet again. That was when I recognized in my own self that I can’t do that. At that time, I was working seven days a week, eight to ten hours a day. I said, “I can’t do this anymore.” I had to figure out where my boundaries are. I think that’s the other part of ourselves. We don’t establish healthy boundaries. If we grew up in a family that was dysfunctional, we’re always finding that we have to give. We forget about ourselves and therefore we don’t set those boundaries that need to be established in order for us to be healthy.

Native American Intergenerational Trauma: There is this expectation in the corporate world that you have to produce sometimes at the cost of your health.

I’ve had this boundary discussion with a lot of my personal clients. I have clients all the time who are trying to set boundaries with other people like, “That’s not how it works.” You set the boundaries with yourself and you stick to your boundaries. Whenever you stick to your own boundaries, by definition, you’re teaching other people how to treat you. They start to follow suit and those who don’t like it eventually fall off and all the better whenever they do. That’s very common. If I’m triggered, I’ll try to make it your problem if something you said triggers me. That’s not your problem, that’s my problem. Anything that triggers me is something that’s not healed within me and that’s a signal. The trigger itself is a signal that I need to look within, not point the finger and blame you because you triggered me. How would you possibly know what my triggers are?

For me, one of the things that I always think about it was a coworker once told me, “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?” Are you willing to step up and try to fight this battle? Is it something that you can allow to let go of? The other part of it that you touched on was the ownership piece. We can own our own experiences and take ownership for what’s happening to us, then we can change it. Whereas if we blame somebody else, we’re giving that control away.

You mentioned Native American, Alaska native, even first nations. I’m a student of Gabor Maté. In that class, we talk a lot about first nations. I’m leaving to head to British Columbia. I’m excited about that trip.

He does phenomenal work.

There’s been a huge impact of intergenerational trauma on native communities. What are some of the biggest impacts that you see in native communities or indigenous communities?

One of the things that I see is there are high rates of mental and physical illness. Suicide is one of the top issues for our youth. Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among Native American youth between the ages of 15 and 24. I was reading about some of the communities where a lot of their young people are committing suicide and they’re at a point like, “We’ve got to stop. We need to figure out what’s happening here.” The problem is for a lot of those people that are a little bit older and our elders, they’re too close to the subject matter. Therefore, they can’t see what the issue is and get in there and deal with that. Substance abuse is another issue for American and Alaska natives between the ages of twelve and older. They have the highest rates of substance abuse. That has impacted families. One of the things that have been brought to the forefront is the murdered and missing indigenous women, not only United States but in Canada.

In first nations communities, that’s what they’re referring to as The REDress Movement to bring awareness. Can you talk a little bit about that? That’s something that we don’t hear a whole lot about.

The issue and the problem is that there have been a number of cases of murdered and missing women in this country. However, because of the jurisdictional issue associated with local police. When I say local, I’m talking about tribal police on the reservations, they have their own tribal police system. You have the state and then the federal, which is the FBI. If there’s an instance where a non-native commits murder or has violence against native women, the tribal police don’t have jurisdiction. The local communities like the county sheriff’s department don’t have jurisdiction and it gets elevated to the FBI.

There’s typically no response or very little response in following up on those cases. An example, there was an article that I read. There were 5,712 cases of murder and missing women that occurred. Out of that group, there were only 116 cases that were actually documented to the Department of Justice’s database. The issue seems small when you look at those numbers. There’s a big movement here in Arizona and across this country to try and get databases and improve that system so that they can get a sense of how big this issue is.

A lot of times, the way we speak of others are things that we’re speaking of ourselves. CLICK TO TWEET

The numbers you gave, is that across the North American continent or is that concentrated to certain areas?

That’s across the United States.

I was curious if this is something where it might be a serial offender who’s getting away with things or it’s a whole bunch of different crimes?

In my heart of hearts, I believe that this number is much more than 5,000. It’s just that how many things and you’ve got to think about reservations. They’re very sparse. When something happens, the chances of even being reported is next to none. Whether the local police or tribal police will do anything is another question. That’s one of the big things that happen. One of the interesting statistics that I read was that more than four out of five American Indian women experienced violence in their lifetime. That says a lot. I know in my lifetime I’ve seen violence and I’ve experienced that. There are also a lot of other effects that happen. I mentioned a couple of these. It’s the erosion and the destruction of traditional native families and what that looks like.

There’s also a lot of child abuse and child neglect because you’re being raised by alcoholic parents that don’t know how to nurture or care for you as a child. Overall, there’s a high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder in the Native American communities. It’s a complicated issue. There’s no easy, quick fix. That’s been my purpose for bringing this forward. I went back to Diné community and held a presentation on intergenerational trauma and how it’s impacted our Diné people. Interestingly enough, the majority of the people that in my presentation were non-natives. There were only two Diné people that were in there. Part of that is because a lot of our older generation, our elders always say, “Don’t talk about that.” In some way, they believe that will be self-fulfilling if you talk about and speak of it. My viewpoint is that if we don’t talk about it, we can’t heal. If we didn’t have that understanding, we can’t heal as a people.

I would agree with your perspective. Coming from a perspective of working with trauma, especially developmental and ancestral issues, when these issues control and take over our lives and they control our behaviors and our thoughts is when we don’t talk about them. The deeper you bury that skeleton in the closet, the more likely that skeleton is going to be pulling the strings and you’re the puppet. These things that we hide away do have control over us. If you want to heal from them, it needs to come out into the light. If you want to make a metaphor, it’s like a vampire. If you want to want to get rid of the vampire, put it out in the sunlight.

I’m one to believe that everything has energy to it. We have the anger and we had that anger deep inside of us. We ended up with cancers. Some people think, “I have cancer.” They’ll deal with the medical course of action but not asking a question, “Why do I have this and where is this coming from?” That’s part of what you’re speaking of.

There is bitterness and resentment to anger. I mentioned my teacher Gabor Maté. He wrote a book called When the Body Says No. He says in that book, one of the ways that he got a lot of information by reading obituaries and he started to put two and two together on what do cancer patients have in common, what do MS patients have in common? It’s about how they approach life and their belief system. It’s, “I’ve got to push through. I can’t take time for myself.” My mother was diagnosed with cancer and she passed away when I was young. There is an element of resentment that goes along with it. I believe that you’re spot on with anger and cancer. It’s heartbreaking.

It’s an opportunity for a lot of us to heal that. That’s what’s coming to me. Our generation is the bridge between the past and the future. If we can stop this cycle of trauma in our own families, it makes the collective a better place to live in. I want to think that we’re all brothers and sisters. We have to live on this planet together. I would rather be in a company of people that are like-minded so that we can grow together.

It Didn’t Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle

Do you believe that intergenerational trauma affects everybody?

I do. I have not met a soul in my life that hasn’t had some trauma in their life. The more that I talk to people that are on this healing path, they start to make the connections in themselves of relationships they have with their moms or their fathers, how they’ve brought that in and how that’s impacted their own lives. If they go one step further and ask the questions, “How has this happened in the past with my grandparents?” chances are you’ll start to see a pattern like you were speaking of about Gabor Maté and some of his work. Especially if you’ve migrated from another country, your ancestors have migrated to another country. You might want to ask the question, why do they migrate? What’s so bad that they had to leave their community of origin? Chances are that you’ll find a lot of answers there.

I can imagine that a lot of our audiences are probably wondering, “Do I have this intergenerational thing?” How does somebody know? What are some signs and symptoms or what are some ways that we can self-assess to figure out if we have intergenerational issues so we know if we need to reach out for help?

I put together five questions that you can ask yourself and you can find that on my website at They’re basic. The first one has to do with what is your greatest complaint about your partner? The second question is, “What are some adjectives or phrases that you use to describe your mother or your father? What is your worst fear?” is another one. “What’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you? What tragic events occurred in your family history?” Those are some talking points and part of the issue is to use your partner as a reflection of yourself. A lot of times, the way we speak of others are things that we’re speaking of ourselves. By going through these questions, you can do that. I’ve also put a video on there and most of these questions that I’ve pulled together was from a book called It Didn’t Start with You. It’s by Mark Wolynn. I put his video on there as well so that people can take a look at that and see if this particular topic resonates with them.

It didn’t start with you as one of the recommended readings from my coursing with Gabor.

It was a very worthwhile book to spend some time with.

On the question, what are some adjectives you would use to describe your mother, what are some words that might come up that might be a red flag? I know when I think of my mother, she passed away a long time ago, but one of the first words that comes to my mind is neurotic. Is that a red flag word that there’s intergenerational trauma?

Why was she neurotic? Start to peel the layers of the onion back. For me, when I think of my mom, I think of her as controlling. She was a single parent and she always used to tell me as a child, “Don’t ever wait for a man to do anything for you. Get up and do it for yourselves.” That made me very independent. I could juggle things. I could multitask. That was the thing that got instilled in me.

My mom used to say the same things to me.

The more you know about your own lineage, the more that you’ll be able to answer the questions that you have in yourself. CLICK TO TWEET

They must have gone to the same school.

She used to say a lot of other things to me. Another way that I described my mother is she was the queen of passive-aggressive. She had it down to an art form and she taught me well. That’s been hard to unwind out of my system. I didn’t realize it until I was in my 30s how passive-aggressive I was. I’m like, “This is not normal.”

One of the things that I would also suggest for your audience to also do is to educate themselves about the true facts of our US history and how they have portrayed Native American people. Chances are it’s not the truth. One of the things that I always do when I go to do presentations in another state or another city is I always acknowledge the original people of that land for their presence of being there. The more you know about your own lineage, the more that you’ll be able to answer a lot of the questions that you have and this conversation has raised in yourself.

Those are some good tips that will get our audience thinking about, “Am I dealing with intergenerational issues?” If somebody does come to the conclusion that, “Yes, I’m dealing with intergenerational issues,” then what next? I understand that you work with people.

Typically in groups and I’m happy to work with people on an individual basis. I use a different approach to things. I use genetic coding as part of it. I’m very familiar with genealogy research because I’ve had to do that on my own path. I’ve recommended some reading that people can do on their own. If you feel like you’re struggling, I would strongly suggest that you get with a trauma therapist to help you work through some of those issues as well.

I’m curious when you work with people, do you work with people locally, in person or do you work on video conferencing?

I can do that either/or, preferably I prefer to do it online because sometimes I’m out traveling and it’s easier to get on the computer and do that online and have some conversation around that.

That’s good for our audience to know that you’re not geographically limited to who you work with. They can find you at your website, which is I love that you told me that kaalogii means butterfly.

When I was thinking of a name for a business, I was thinking of something that impacted the work that I wanted to do. It was thinking of the transformation of a butterfly from a caterpillar to all the time that it blooms into its beautiful self. To me, that’s similar to going on that corn pollen path and it’s what we’re here to do.

Native American Intergenerational Trauma: There’s a gift at the end of the challenges that we have in our life.

I especially love the butterfly analogy because most people think that when a caterpillar goes into the cocoon and grows wings and comes out, that’s not the case. We dissolve into a disgusting pile of goo and completely transform into something else. I think that is such a perfect analogy for the transformation that comes through the healing process. There is a period of time where internally and inside it’s almost like your soul feels that disgusting pile of goo for a period of time. You’re like, “I don’t know what to do with this.” When you come out the other side, it’s like, “This is a whole different world.”

For those that may be indigenous or Native American or those that are aren’t, I also host sweat lodges at my home. I do that at every new moon. For people to go through that purification to get a cleansing of themselves and try to figure out what it is that their ancestors are calling them to do. I also do women’s healing circles. I typically have those schedules on my website. I have those once a month where women come together and have a safe container to share what’s on their mind if they’re working through some issues is to be there with sisters to help them through that process.

I might have to come out and take part in one of those. I would love that. I know we mentioned your website at Do you have any other places or any other preferred ways for the audience to reach out to you or is that your preferred way?

That is my preferred way. I love Caroline Myss’ work. It talks about the shadow work. A lot of times that’s usually the place that we don’t want to go to. She has some beautiful books and resources around doing shadow work. I also do that and I focus on the individual and it’s based on your birth. It’s like an astrology chart that goes through and peels back the onion. I’m here to be a facilitator more than you are to do the work and give you the tools to work through that yourselves. Sometimes it takes a long time to go through that process, which is okay. There’s no hurry in trying to get through all of this, but it allows you to be a better person.

It’s so interesting that you mentioned Caroline Myss’ work because I’m going through The Language of Archetypes for the third time. I’ll listen to it and then I’ll skip a few months and then I’ll go back. Every time I listen to it, I get something new out of it. I figure something else out. I love that you mentioned shadow work. Carl Jung talks about the shadow. The thing that we fear. Those parts inside of us that we fear to face. The shadow is 90% golden according to Carl Jung. We have our gifts, our talents and our creativity. All of those things that make us uniquely who we are hidden behind walls and armor. Those walls and armor are built with emotions like fear, shame and anger. We don’t want to face our own emotions. We bump into those emotional walls and those blockages and we turn around and go the other way or project those emotions out at everybody around us.

I always believe that those challenges that we have in our life, there’s a gift at the end. For us to make the decision to go through it, sit with the emotions, work through it and then there’s always something that’s much more beautiful on the other side.

Do you have any final tips or bits of wisdom for our audience?

I’ve shared with you as much as I can. I’ll continue to put some resources on my website. I’m doing a blog on the mother wound, which is interesting because I find in my community that there are a lot of people dealing with that. I’ve had to go through that. My mom is 87 years old. On the weekends, I travel five-and-a-half hours to spend time with her and it’s given me an opportunity to change our relationship. I see myself in her as well. That’s one of the things that I’m also going to be posting.

Is there an option on your blog to subscribe or follow it so we get notices?

If you go to the blog page, there’s a little place that you can put your email in there. As soon as the update comes, you’ll be sent it.

I’m going to have to do that because I want to read that when it comes out. It sounds fantastic.

It’s wonderful talking with you, Jennifer.

It’s wonderful to have you and this is such valuable information. I know our audiences are going to get a lot out of it. Hopefully, raise a little bit of self-awareness as to whether or not you have some of your own intergenerational issues that you might need to address. If you do, I work with ancestral issues. Belinda works with these issues and there are lots of therapists out there. My biggest piece of advice whenever you’re shopping around for a therapist is to find somebody that is relatable and somebody you feel safe with. If you don’t feel safe with your therapist, for example, if you find yourself lying to your therapists, which I found myself doing in my twenties, you don’t feel safe with them. That’s a big clue, whenever they ask you a question and you give them half-truth answers. Find somebody you can be completely open, authentic, honest with and that will help you heal.

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About Belinda Eriacho

I come from a lineage of Dine’ (Navajo) and Ashwii (Zuni) located in the southwest United States. After a long professional career, I have decided to give back to my communities by sharing my cultural traditions and life experiences. Through my personal healing, I have experienced the awakening process and I can help you experience the same.

It is through my personal journey on the corn pollen path of life, love, loss, grief, abuse, healing, illness, and renewal of the self that I am able to assist you in this process. I understand life’s challenges and joys that are presented to us. I realize these life challenges are the gifts on our life’s journey towards “hozho”.

Hozho is a way of life and means to walk through life in balance with all living things around me in everything that we do. We each have the choice to live a life of happiness and a sense of freedom.

education epigenetics genealogy research Hozho intergenerational trauma Native American tradition

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