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Spiritual Practices in the Healing of American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Survivors Transcript

WOMAN: We offer the smudging to our victims so that they can get some strength, some understanding of what's gonna happen next, what we're gonna do for them, and to try to help them feel safe and have that safety net for them.

TATEWIN MEANS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, OGLALA SIOUX TRIBE: Our strongest resource is our culture and our spirituality. We have healing ceremonies that can address different aspects of the trauma that one goes through when they experience sexual violence. But the challenge is incorporating that into more Western systems. How do you integrate the cultural and spiritual with something that's really foreign to our community and our population? I think one of the keys is having individuals that really understand that cultural value and cultural importance of integrating our ceremonies and healing into the work that we do.

LARRY SWALLEY, INVESTIGATOR/CASE MANAGER, OGLALA LAKOTA CHILDREN'S CENTER: I keep pushing the culture, because we have the ability to address these victims in a holistic manner. I can take them to a ceremony, address them holistically, sing for them, calm their spirit, give them a proper orientation as to what happened to them. Not only that, but train them to learn how to let that go, because no matter what they do physically, they can't go back and change anything that happened to them. We recently built a sweat lodge here for the Children's Justice Center. Then we used the sweat lodge as a form of calming the spirit, to call their names, to bring their spirit back to the center, which is absent from a lot of the families on the reservation.

ARLENE O'BRIEN, TOHONO O'ODHAM NATION, SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR LAW AND POLICY: We have to have hope. We've been here a long time, our people, and we're survivors. We can survive. We can survive.