The ultimate goal of this project is to foster a sense of hope and understand a “sense of place” through “place-based imagery.” The objective is for participants to become aware of their personal strengths that are grounded in their relationships to people, the land, ancestors, culture, and experiences evoked through the participation in small group Indigenous based art experiences.  The project seeks to encourage participants to recall personal stories as well as stories of their ancestors to understand a “sense of place” and hope. Visual images and written narratives will be collected, displayed and titled.   In short, “hope invites one to contemplate life.” (Hanna 1991)

Cultural Overview

For many Native Americans, oral tradition and the telling of personal stories have been important to understanding and learning their culture.  Often, stories are told during traditional ceremonies, when stories of individuals’ life experiences and their relationships with families of several generations are recited.  Most importantly, stories of one’s elders, their wisdom and contributions are recognized.  Within the Native American community, we often refer to this as “standing on the shoulders of our ancestors,” or recognizing the “seven generations,” acknowledging the gifts given to us from our ancestors.  Tony Incashola, a Native American elder and the head of the Salish Culture Committee stated, “future decisions and how one’s actions impact the well-being and future of the next generations rest on the shoulders of hope.  Our past, our cultural stories shape who we are” (T. Incashola, personal communication, May 2nd, 2013).  The cornerstone for this project is to realize the legacy of the past and appreciate one’s responsibility to the future in an effort to decrease suicide ideation.

Infusion into Doctoral Program

Co Carew is a Doctoral Candidate at Lesley University in Expressive Arts Therapy.  The skills, knowledge and focus of the doctoral project directly align with the grant objectives.  The incorporation of Indigenous Research Methodologies and Art Based Research guides the study and the research project.  According to Mohatt, Fok, Burket, Henry and Allen (2011), psychological well-being is a “holistic sense of connectedness of the individual, family, community and the natural environment” (p. 444).

Research Questions

Given these factors, this research project addresses the following questions: 1) How does Indigenous art-making cultivate an understanding of a sense of place through “place-based imagery”? 2) Does a sense of place through “place-based imagery” lead one to remember, restore or reconnect to oneself and cultural knowledge, shared through storytelling. Indigenous research methodology?

Primary Contact

Co Carew