Historic Loss & Compassion
My name is Kaitlyn and I am King Island Iñupiaq from Nome, Alaska. I am in my senior year studying psychology and I have been studying how compassion can act as a mediator for intergenerational trauma. With Fort Lewis recognizing its history as an Indian Residential School, I felt that beginning to identify healing factors for my generation was something I felt passionate about researching this year.
We examined Historic Loss and Historic Loss Associated Symptoms in 60 Native American and Alaska Native students attending Fort Lewis College. Levels of self-compassion were assessed in participants to determine if there is a correlation between negative feelings towards oneself and psychological risk factors related to students’ awareness of current events. This is particularly salient to students at a campus doing active reconciliation work.
Self-compassion was predicted to act as a positive coping mechanism for those most impacted by intergenerational trauma.
Results concluded that students who were aware of truth and reconciliation efforts towards Indian Residential Schools, furthermore schools in which unmarked graves of children have been discovered, reported low levels of self-compassion.
Psychological impacts were found to be manifested at higher rates when participants were asked how often thoughts of loss of land and language occur, as well as the effects of substance use in their communities.
The purpose of this work was to examine whether compassion can act as a protective factor for historic loss and intergenerational trauma. I hope to continue this work as I further my career within the field of Indigenous Psychology.
— Kaitlyn Sebwenna-Painter (Iñupiaq), Psychology, Fort Lewis College ‘22