Cherokee Youth Council to host discussion on generational trauma

by Jun 23, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments



One Feather Staff


The Cherokee Youth Council (CYC) is tackling the tough topic of generational trauma in Indian Country during an upcoming event.  CYC’s event entitled “A Discussion on Generational Trauma” is scheduled for Monday, July 11 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Harrah’s Cherokee Convention Center.

The CYC is funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and is housed under the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute at the Cherokee Boys Club.

“Each year, the Cherokee Youth Council is tasked with completing a community project,” said Tonya Carroll, Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute director.  “COVID-19 has not allowed them to plan a group project for the past few years. When the youth members decided they wanted to plan a conference on generation trauma I knew that was a huge undertaking for them. Many of them have never even been to a conference, let alone planned one. Planning and organizing this conference has been a great learning experience. They have had their hands in all the decision making from selecting the presenters to choosing the menu and items in the conference bag. They have spent hours planning and practicing their individual roles to make this event successful. Please register and join us to support their hard work and effort on July 11.”

The CYC members said in a joint statement, “We chose the topic of generational trauma because it is relevant to all Indigenous people and because it is something that is experienced nationwide. As the years go by, we lose more and more of our culture. If we continue down this path, we will have nothing left. There are a lot of people that do not believe in generational trauma, but it doesn’t just affect us, it affects everyone. This issue is the root of most of the problems we face.”

CYC members include: Emma Taylor, Caedance Smith, Lucian Davis, Kaelin Jones, Brayden Taylor, Amaya Hicks, Praire Toinetta, Tsisqua Hill, Anna Bigwitch, Mahala Bird, Zoe Walkingstick, Alexis Smith, Abigail Taylor, Lindley Wyatt, Gage Welch, Tymius Alison, Amila Lossie, Cameron Jackson, Ross Clapsaddle, Kale Walkingstick, Marlee Hicks, Utsela Saunooke, and Makenzee Bird.

They added, “We want to bring awareness to the topic and to give our community a way to allow themselves to take a step forward toward healing. We want Cherokee to be a better place and to spark our community and tribe to learn to speak our language. Finally, we want our leadership to focus on cultural preservation.”

Levi West, Cherokee Youth Council leadership specialist, commented, “Watching the kids become interested in a topic, brainstorm, and then dial in on a focus area has been my favorite part of the project. It really is their project and we wanted it to be that way. To empower them and give them a platform and voice to present something to the community on something the kids think is an important issue.”

According to a Health magazine article entitled “What is generational trauma? Here’s how experts explain it”, the idea of generational trauma has been around for 56 years.  “In 1966, Canadian psychiatrist Vivian M. Rakoff, MD, and her colleagues recorded high rates of psychological distress among children of Holocaust survivors, and the concept of generational trauma was first recognized.”

In that same article, Melanie English, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and parenting evaluator, stated, “It (generational trauma) can be silent, covert, and undefined, surfacing through nuances and inadvertently taught or implied throughout someone’s life from an early age onward.”

The CYC is hoping the discussions will help EBCI tribal members.  “We want our community members and tribal leadership to use a Cherokee mindset when making decisions. The purpose of this conference is to help us learn how to heal from trauma as a community.”

The event is free for ages 13-17 and has a $75 registration fee for those 18 and over.  Lunch will be provided for all participants at 12 p.m.  Register for the event at  For more information, contact Levi West 359-5543 or