Pete Hill, project coordinator at Native American Community Services of Erie & Niagara Counties, led a discussion exploring the historical truths and continuing legal challenges impacting indigenous communities on Nov. 7, as part of the celebration of Native American Heritage Month, sponsored by Niagara University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Attendees viewed the film “The Doctrine of Discovery--Unmasking the Domination Code,” which explored the events that occurred during the colonization of the Americas, and which have had a lasting and negative impact on the indigenous people.

Noting that every decision we make affects seven generations into the future, Hill said that he hoped discussions like these would lead to acceptance and understanding of historical trauma, which refers to the cumulative emotional harm a traumatic experience or event can cause. In the case of Native Americans, the devaluation of their culture over many generations has resulted in poorer overall physical and mental health among that population.

“I truly believe we can be that generation that recognizes historical trauma and begin the process of healing,” he said.