Tanaya Winder, an award-winning poet raised on the Southern Ute reservation, offered ways to nurture self-love in turbulent times during a new podcast by the American Indian Graduate Center.
The center, the largest scholarship provider to Native American students in the U.S., launched its “Inspired” podcast with an episode about navigating trauma. Protests and coronavirus restrictions can add stress for people who have experienced trauma. Winder, a motivational speaker and educator, had a simple message: Take care of yourself.
“If you’re running yourself into the ground, we don’t win,” said Winder, an enrolled member of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. “You can’t just sacrifice yourself to make it better for everybody; you need to take care of yourself, too.”
Traumas come from a wound, Winder said. Feelings like “I’m hurt” or “I don’t feel safe” can remind people of their first trauma. Indigenous community members might also face historical trauma when impacts of violence and oppression are passed down by previous generations.
“Those memories stick with you. It’s all interconnected, and sometimes we spiral in those traumas,” she said in an email to The Durango Herald.
During the podcast, Winder offered ways to recognize a problem, ask for help and practice self-care. She focuses on what brings her happiness, like writing poetry, and described a four-step writing exercise as a powerful way to “ask for what you need and see it laid out.”
Childhood traumas will linger with Native Americans into adulthood, but they are not alone.
“You are the answers to our ancestors’ prayers,” Winder said via email. “You will help heal the world, but it starts with healing yourself and your family.”
Practicing self-care can be hard, Winder said. While navigating her own trauma, anxiety and busy schedule, she can forget to listen to her body or feel separated from her spirit. But she encouraged people to reach out and ask for support.
To people like her, who get caught up in helping others, Winder said:
“Everybody is sacred. You can say that to yourself: ‘I’m sacred, and I deserve to be taken care of.’ How am I going to take care of myself today, so I can take care of other people?”