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Decolonizing the Mind with Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, 1/30 talk at Island’s and Oceans

Bunnell Street Arts Center with MAPP’s Resilience Coalition presents a community talk and training, Decolonizing the Mind with Dr. Michael Yellow Bird at Islands and Ocean Visitors Center, January 30, 6 pm.

Bunnell Arts, together with MAPP’s Reslience Coalition, presents Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, a leading visionary on the subject of decolonization. Dr. Michael Yellow Bird, PhD,  is a citizen of the Sioux Nation.  He is a leading expert teaching, writing, researching, and doing community work focusing on Indigenous Peoples’ health, leadership, and cultural rights; the effects of colonization and methods of decolonization; decolonizing social work approaches; neurodecolonization and mind body approaches; neuroscience and Indigenous Peoples; and traditional mindfulness and contemplative practices.

Bunnell Street Arts Center has for many years been part of  the MAPP of the Southern Kenai Peninsula Coalition, a collaboration of local organizations which aims to promote resilience by mobilizing action through planning and partnerships. We are eager to support this new initiative on behalf of MAPP’s  Southern Kenai Peninsula Resilience Coalition (SKPRC). Bunnell, together with SKPRC invites citizens of the surrounding area including our neighbors across the Bay, Ninilchik Tribal Council and Seldovia Village Tribe (co-sponsors and contributors to this project), all healthcare providers as well as the many members of MAPP to participate in this informative presentation. This project will introduce community members, individuals and organizations beyond those participating in MAPP to decolonization trainings in order to better provide trauma-informed services within and around this community, from the arts to healing, social discourse and public policy.  Working together as a community coalition, we aim to surface truth and reconciliation around the colonization of Alaska, to promote healing around the trauma of colonization in Alaska through creative practices. 

Continuing a multi-year exploration of the effects of colonization, Bunnell’s leading curatorial question is, what are artists and visionaries doing to express resilience, adaptation, innovation and healing around colonization? How might we empower, shape and redefine cultural survival in a changing environment? Bunnell builds upon previous decolonizing projects to present Dr. Yellow Bird. Previous projects include SHORE: Tuggeght, a land-recognition project by Yu’pik dancer, Emily Johnson (2016) Decolonizing Alaska (2016-2018), a national touring exhibition featuring 33 ethnically and racially diverse Alaska artists, ALAXSXA | ALASKA (2017-18), a statewide touring play about cultural juxtapositions and reframing Alaska history co-written by Ryan Conarro and Gary Upay’aq Beaver, and Intercurrents: the Alaska Treaty of Cession (2018), We are learning that we can strengthen the social, physical and economic fiber of Homer by presenting visionaries who spark community engagement and promote stewardship through cross-sector partnerships. Decolonization, healing the traumatic effects of colonization, begins with language, from language revitalization efforts, to listening and speaking. Healing begins with how we tell our stories, how we meet each other.

The SKPRC has been actively working to educate and engage the community on the topics of resilience, ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), and trauma. As part of that initiative the coalition has a priority to train a diversity of community members in a new Alaskan curriculum. Alaska Resilience Initiative has just released “History and Hope,” training specifically for healthcare professionals and educators. This curriculum consists of state and national ACEs data, looks at the effects of ACEs and trauma, and identifies solutions and resources for healing. This training looks at both risk and protective factors through a social ecological model – like the layers of an onion – from individual to relationship to community/institution to society/policy to history. For the first time ever, it speaks to both the trauma and resilience that exist within Alaska’s indigenous communities. Bringing Dr. Yellow Bird to Homer is a first step to address decolonization and is in anticipation of a local “training of trainers” event in Homer in March of 2019.

This project is coordinated with the efforts of the Fairbanks Wellness Coalition who initially contracted to bring Dr. Yellow Bird to Alaska for their Resilience Conference on February 2. Aligning with the efforts of the Fairbanks Wellness Coalition, and statewide efforts, the project here in the Southern Kenai Peninsula will introduce community members, individuals and organizations to the concept of decolonization in order to better provide trauma-informed services within and around this community.
For more information, contact Hannah Gustafson at MAPP or Asia Freeman, Artistic Director, Bunnell Street Arts Center, asia@bunnellarts.org