Story as Medicine: Indigenous Storytelling as a Path to Resilience
In many Indigenous communities around the world, storytelling was a central part of life (Erdoes & Ortiz, 1984). Stories were how wisdom was passed on, often from elders to young children; they held lessons and were something that could be ingrained into memory and helped build culture (Doucleff & Greenhalgh, 2019). As a result of the genocide of Native Americans in North America that lasted centuries (Corntassel et al., 2009), their stories changed from lessons of how the world came to be to lessons on how to overcome the deepest levels of grief and adversity. Today, some of the most popular Indigenous novels and poetry are stories of resilience born from trauma. These were not simple lessons of coyotes getting into mischief, but lessons from the deepest pain. Navigating trauma with the help of storytelling encouraged resilience (Corntassel et al., 2009; Estés, 1992; Harjo & Leen, 1995). This paper will explore the science and words behind the alchemical process of story as medicine, Indigenous storytelling as a conduit to resilience, and how it can be used for all.