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Therapeutic Nations

Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights

Dian Million

Publication Year: 2013

Self-determination is on the agenda of Indigenous peoples all over the world. This analysis by an Indigenous feminist scholar challenges the United Nations–based human rights agendas and colonial theory that until now have shaped Indigenous models of self-determination. Gender inequality and gender violence, Dian Million argues, are critically important elements in the process of self-determination.

Million contends that nation-state relations are influenced by a theory of trauma ascendant with the rise of neoliberalism. Such use of trauma theory regarding human rights corresponds to a therapeutic narrative by Western governments negotiating with Indigenous nations as they seek self-determination.

Focusing on Canada and drawing comparisons with the United States and Australia, Million brings a genealogical understanding of trauma against a historical filter. Illustrating how Indigenous people are positioned differently in Canada, Australia, and the United States in their articulation of trauma, the author particularly addresses the violence against women as a language within a greater politic. The book introduces an Indigenous feminist critique of this violence against the medicalized framework of addressing trauma and looks to the larger goals of decolonization. Noting the influence of humanitarian psychiatry, Million goes on to confront the implications of simply dismissing Indigenous healing and storytelling traditions.

Therapeutic Nations is the first book to demonstrate affect and trauma’s wide-ranging historical origins in an Indigenous setting, offering insights into community healing programs.  The author’s theoretical sophistication and original research make the book relevant across a range of disciplines as it challenges key concepts of American Indian and Indigenous studies.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Series: Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-9

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1. An Introduction to Healing in an Age of Indigenous Human Rights

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pp. 1-32

In a 2008 news article, “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Raises Controversy,” Adrian Humphreys asks her readers to contemplate how “Canada will take its historical place alongside such tarnished regimes as South Africa, Chile, El Salvador and Sierra Leone.” The Truth and...

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2. Gendered Racialized Sexuality: The Formation of States

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pp. 33-55

The Canadian TRC specifically addressed sexual abuse of Indian children in residential schools. As a separate issue, Canada and the United States also came under human rights scrutiny from Amnesty International for failing to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence. These campaigns...

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3. Felt Theory

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pp. 56-77

In this chapter I make a case for remembering and understanding the impact of Canadian First Nations and Métis women’s first-person and experiential narratives on white, mostly male, mainstream scholarship. I argue that these narratives were political acts in themselves that in their...

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4. The “Indian Problem”: Anomie and Its Discontents

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pp. 78-102

In a 2008 commentary on research surrounding mental health in Indian Country, Audra Simpson asks, in tandem with W. E. B. Du Bois, “How does it feel to be a Problem?”2 Her commentary astutely assesses how those once denied any subjectivity come to the fore in a neoliberal moment...

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5. Therapeutic Nations

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pp. 103-122

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation, headed by a Native who’s who in health, social work, and recovery, acknowledged their work as an extension of grassroots work in communities. They had built on the back of work that had been ongoing for over a decade. Charged with bringing the multiple...

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6. What Will Our Nation Be?

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pp. 123-145

In the United States, Pat Bellanger, an Ojibwe from Minnesota, stated her community’s interest: “To us, it is impossible to separate the fate of our children from the fate of our families—they are the same. We needed to come together as families. The women define the family and the family...

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7. (Un)Making the Biopolitical Citizen

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pp. 146-180

On the website Self-Determination Theory, Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s words appear and dissolve, intermixed with pictures of smiling, healthy people. Their words introduce the power of self-determination as a theory for well-being: “To be self determined is to endorse one’s actions...


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pp. 181-206

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 207-223


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pp. 225-230

About the Author

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pp. 231-241

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599172
E-ISBN-10: 0816599173
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530182
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530181

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies
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OCLC Number: 855906035
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Therapeutic Nations

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indigenous peoples -- Canada -- Government relations.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Government relations -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Civil rights -- Canada.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Civil rights -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada.
  • Indigenous peoples -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Cross-cultural studies.
  • Truth commissions -- Cross-cultural studies.
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