Oral history is one of the best ancient or traditional methods used to pass information from one generation to another. Aspects of cultural change, education especially on sexuality or health, gender identification and the roles of each individual in the family relied on oral history.
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Due to lack of recorded material on critical subjects, oral history becomes the best way to get first hand information. Thus, by use of oral history and narrative/report analysis, my paper critically analyses the way poor people or indigenous communities like those of the aborigine descent are struggling to recuperate from a deteriorating health in their subsequent generations.
Culture erosion, negligence, traumatic past experiences, racism, and colonialism are some of the elements that interplay to hinder the progression of health in the indigenous communities in Taiwan and Canada. The traumatic impact of the colonialists not only eroded the cultural practices, but also altered the health status of the subsequent generations.
Why is health disparity an issue in the western world or Europe especially to those people living in Canada like Aborigines? Which issues contribute to the poor health status the community experience? Mitchell and Maracle cite colonialism as one of the major factors that have led to the deterioration of the health status of the indigenous communities (aborigines) (20).
Due to the invasion of the colonialists, the indigenous people had to succumb to their demands. They also mention Cultural assimilation of the whites as one of the other major issue that had a negative impact on the colonized communities. Unfortunately, the aborigines were not ready to accept the assimilation, which led to conflicts.
Consequently, the colonialists tortured and pressured them to abandon their social or cultural practices and adapt a new culture, which was not only hectic, but also very diverse. Using force and threats, the colonial government was able to establish a uniform cultural practice. Therefore, the traumatic experience inflicted on the minority groups like the aborigines affects the psychology of the subsequent generations.
Mental instability or illness is one of the health crises that the people of most minorities or indigenous communities’ experience. For instance, Mitchell and Maracle expose the deteriorating mental health of the Aborigines in Canada when they say, “mental health issues or issues of imbalance are reflected in high level of depression, additions, and suicides” (15). In addition, the psychological problems have persisted in different generations.
Additionally, Mitchell and Maracle put the blame of mental illness to the cultural erosion that the indigenous communities undergo. They also mention that the long-term impact of deculturation or diachronic trauma may integrate in the next generations, thereby leaving behind a disturbing legacy (15). The indigenous/minority groups abandoned their traditional healing methods and lifestyle, which could have solved the current emerging health issues.
The adaptation of a new lifestyle, which consists of different eating habit or human diets, leads to lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes, and hypertension among others. Colonialism led to adaptation of new cultural practices. The new generation therefore live this adapted culture; they do not have a chance to learn/know about their cultural practices. Therefore, they not only adapt to foreign culture, which is in the school curriculum, but also practice a culture of a society that overlooks their health.
Therefore, the indigenous communities in the west have a task to seek for their forgotten cultural practices, which may also be a remedy to their deteriorating health status. Besides being cheaper, the practices may also be a form of recuperation of the generations that undergo psychological instability.
According to Drew and Godlewska, the colonial perpetrators separated women from men or girls from boys, which denied the indigenous communities an opportunity to appreciate their familial environment (449). They assert that the segregation not only contributed to the erosion of family/moral values, but also led to racism, an issue that currently contributes to health disparity in the affected community.
Due to racial discrimination, the health priority of the minority groups is not an agenda in most government forums. The minority or indigenous people lack proper health care or facilities because of their skin color. Racism leads to discrimination or isolation in social institutions like hospital and schools.
Thus, the inaccessibility of the hospitals is the reason why the people succumb to ailments, which are treatable. Racism has led to isolation of social amenities in the society, which becomes both traumatic and painful to the indigenous communities and sometimes the psychological consequences culminates into mental instability. Moreover, children who live in racially segregated communities end up developing mental disorders, which can affect the many generations to come.
Racism denies the minority groups to access the higher education facilities of their choice, therefore making them to lag behind on the matters of health. Statistical analysis carried out in Canada comparing the health status of the aboriginal and the non-aboriginals reveal that the whites have a stable health record. Therefore, the impacts of the colonialists are the major issues that need remedy to ensure the healing of the indigenous communities.
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Furthermore, Mitchell and Maracle cite the lack of formal education to the indigenous communities that not only locks them out from accessing good jobs, but also denies them adequate information concerning health issues. Health information is critical.
The two scholars call for psychological education to the indigenous people to arm them up incase any member of their families experiences a traumatic event. Most of the higher institutions scrutinize the origin of their students while others bluntly refuse to accept non-white students. On the other hand, the institution that accepts them may lack vital courses within the health sectors, which leaves the communities to depend on the white people in their society.
The menial jobs do not give them a chance to access a good health package. With financial constrains, the indigenous/minority groups are unable to access health insurance systems. Consequently, the treatment cost of chronic diseases like cancer or diabetes among others is extremely high.
Racism promotes inequality, discrimination, and oppression of the minorities/indigenous communities in Europe. The inequality that prevails in Europe is because of the racial segregation. While the whites or the majority enjoy good health, jobs, education and an admirable lifestyle, the minority thrive under impoverished conditions and languish in poverty. The minority are unable to enjoy similar rights in equal quantity hence the poverty.
Although Mitchell and Maracle are unable to unravel the mystery behind the inequality in their society, they intellectually think that the answer may lie within the political docket or sector (14). Besides racial segregation, the politicians want to ensure the minor communities are ‘under their feet’. Therefore, the continuous oppression and discrimination ranges from the health, education to the economic issues. The white community fears for their position incase the minor community elevate their status beyond that of the whites.
Thusly, to keep them under control, oppression and discrimination are some of the tactics that politicians apply. Unfortunately, their uncouth tactic eventually denies the indigenous society right to health because they are unable to either access funds or social amenities concerned with their health. Additionally, the role of politicians is to control the economic and social wellbeing of their nation and therefore, when all citizens are unable to have equal rights, the problem definitely originates from the political sector.
Despite the devastating state of the health sector in the indigenous community, Mitchell and Maracle give remedies to the problem. First, the two scholars from the Aborigine community call for assistance from the health providers/sectors to heal the continually ailing community. Scientists, researchers, historians, and philosophers should converge to form a transformation system that will ensure the community recuperates.
Historians, psychologists, and philosophers should research on the ancient cultural practices especially the cultural degeneration of the indigenous communities like the aborigines since the invasion of the whites. Additionally, the ancient political, social, and economical practices should be under scrutiny as a way to ensure their health problems do not originate from the three elements. Furthermore, psychologists should educate adults from the indigenous communities on how to deal with mental illness.
Therefore, psychological education will assist in the healing of the unborn generations because parents will have first hand information on how to deal with their mentally challenged children/infants (Mitchell and Maracle1). Nevertheless, the healing of the community will not occur overnight but it will be a long process with effective results.
Moreover, Mitchell and Maracle insist on the healing of the trauma that occurred during the colonial times (18). The two writers recommend the study of the emotional and spiritual status of the psychologically challenged individuals. The physical stress and wounds will also lead to a clean or healthy generation free of psychological trauma. The psychological and physical therapy will ensure the indigenous people accept the horrific and terrific incidents, events that occurred in their lives.
The third recommendation is that the education system should include the social, cultural, political, and economic practices of the indigenous communities in their curriculum. Consequently, the people will appreciate their origin therefore learning the effect of the elements on their health.
Similarly, the remedy will enable the community to design an effective methodology on how to heal their generations. Additionally, equal educational opportunities will give the communities a chance to learn on the different emerging diseases or disorders in the health sector or human body.
Therefore, they will be able to not only deal with the disease, but also put up preventive measures against the occurrence of the disease. Communal groups should practice unity, which will enable them to support each other, incase of traumatic event, or stress in an individual. The groups will also enlighten each other on the current issues affecting them in their community.
Finally, according to Mitchell and Maracle “the racism that remains a barrier to progress in (the) of indigenous people(s)” needs abolishment whence all the citizens especially the government or leaders should preach equality (20). Equality will not only lead to eradication of oppression, discrimination, and racism in the society, but also promote good health in the indigenous community. Besides, racism denying the minority communities their rights, it also culminates into hatred in the society, which hinders peace. Establishment of policies will ensure all generations practice equality, which will curb health disparities in the communities or western society.
On the other hand, Geertje asses the impact of mental instability on the family issues and values. For instance, with the use of oral history, he is able to investigate and give the negative effects of psychological instability, which ranges from break down of family ties like marriage, financial instability to lack of peace in the entire or extended families (Geertje 268). Therefore, linking Geertje and Mitchell’s articles, the two write-ups, confirm that familial psychological trauma is possibly transferable to the next generations.
In summary, using oral history, different articles have been able to produce social issues that never existed in records. These issues negatively affect communities, especially in matters of health. Colonialism forcefully altered the social and cultural practices of indigenous communities specifically, the aborigines. Unfortunately, the psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical traumas persist in the subsequent generations despite colonialism having ended several decades ago.
Drew and Godlewska, and Mitchell and Maracle among others discuss the health disparities that colonialism caused while Boschma explains through oral history how emotional instability affect generations subsequently. Mitchell and Maracle outline the remedies of the health inequality in western society especially for the indigenous communities.
The two scholars recommend psychological treatment, education, and guidance to parents from these indigenous communities. They also call for unity among community members to solve and cater for the health of their fellow people. Finally, the leaders in the West should work hard to eliminate racism and discrimination in their society.
Drew, Bednasek, and Godlewska, Anne.”The influence of betterment discourses on
Canadian Aboriginal peoples in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” Canadian Geographer 53.4(2009): 444-461. Print
Geertje, Boschma. “Accommodation and resistance to the dominant cultural discourse on psychiatric mental health: Oral history accounts of family members.” Nursing Inquiry 14.4 (2007): 266-278. Print
Giltrow, Janet. Academic Writing: An Introduction. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press, 2009.
Mitchell, Terry, and Maracle, Dawn. “Healing the Generations: Post-Traumatic Stress and the Health Status of Aboriginal Populations in Canada.” Journal of aboriginal health 4.12 (2005): 1-20.