Creating Justice through Restoring Tribal Nations

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The earliest policies implemented during the colonization of the Americas were harbingers of the future for American Indian tribal nations. The colonizers prevailed, and the tribal nations became domestic dependent nations that have had to rebuild themselves from near decimation. Once the Indigenous peoples of the United States were forced onto reservations, and rancherias in California, the struggle to sustain life and sovereignty began. The damage resulting from this colonization deeply hurt the tribal communities, both collectively and individually as people. The wounds resulting from this oppression, a soul wound (a fractured soul), have created intergenerational trauma, or post-traumatic stress syndrome. This trauma manifests in health care problems, such as alcoholism, suicide, and diseases (cancer, heart disease, diabetes), and social problems, such as poverty and social isolation. The last thirty years bore witness to a decolonization movement. Efforts to reestablish self government and to exercise sovereignty have resulted in community healing and collective empowerment, which in turn affected individual healing. These efforts have created justice through the restoration of the tribal nations resulting in the healing of the deep soul wounds for both communities and individuals. This paper explores restorative justice through investigating the restoration efforts of these tribal communities. It overviews historical policies through to current policies that impact the tribal communities in the United States. The paper also addresses the decolonization efforts and how this restorative justice has resulted in healing the tribal communities that have been restored.


Keywords: Tribal Communities, Restorative Justice, Empowerment, Community Healing
Stream: First Nations, Indigenous Peoples
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Creating Justice Through Restoring Tribal Nations


Dr. Adelle Sanders

Associate Professor, College of Health Professions
School of Social Work, Governors State University

University Park, Illinois, USA

Dr. Sanders is a professor of Social Work at Governors State University. She holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from the College of Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California; a Master of Social Work, from California State University, Sacramento, with a Poverty and Minority Concentration; and, a BS in Applied Behavioral Science with an emphasis on Cross Cultural Human Development. Dr. Sanders has taught for 22 years. Prior to coming to academia, and in conjunction with her teaching, she has thirty years of community practice with poor and minority communities, including twenty-five years working with some of the California tribal nations in their restoration and reconstruction. She also has a long history of social activism. Her research interests lie in praxis, melding theory and practice. Dr. Sanders has particularly published related to diversity, sovereighty, and social work practice with tribal communities. She describes herself as an emic reseracher, inside out, because she, herself, is an Indigenous person of Eastern Cherokee descent.

Ref: D08P0375