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. The article presents an overview of historical policies through to current day policies that have impacted 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.
Associate Professor, College of Health Professions, School of Social Work, Governors State University, University Park, Illinois, USA
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