Very recently, many throughout the world went into unneccessary panic over the misreading of the Mayan calendar. When a majority culture takes aspects of a minority culture with the goal to make it “fit” into their culture, misunderstandings and misuses, like what we experienced with the Mayan calendar, can occur. Yesterday, NPR’s Science Friday featured two scholars of Mayan studies. They explained the following; at the height of the Mayan era, they were a powerful and highly functional society with the capabilities to create sophisticated calendars; Mayan are still alive and well today, mainly living in Guatemala, and many, Westerners included, misunderstood and, therefore, miscalculated the meaning of the Mayan calendar which resulted in the panic we witnessed yesterday.
I wish we heard more about the successes and acheivements of the Maya people during this frenzy. When working with Latino clients, especially adopted adolescents, I frequently note that many Latinos have a Native American heritage. This is not often discussed or acknowledged. My point in highlighting this part of their heritage is to remind them (and myself) that our ancestors were powerful, proud, intelligent, creative, and highly industrious people. Connecting to that sense of cultural continuation is important to ground oneself to who she is as a person, a culture, a nation today.
Last month the American Counseling Association showcased a Brown Paper, “Lifting Latinos up by their ‘Rootstraps’: Moving beyond Trauma to a Healing Informed Model to Engage Latino Boys and Men” by the National Latino Fatherhood and Family Institute. It described how their lost connection to their native ancestry has negatively impacted the community. The Brown Paper describes interventions to address trauma using connections to this ancestry as an alternative to current treatments. It is time for increased acknowledgement and access to this aspect of cultural heritage be recognized and attended to in treatment. For Latino adopted persons this recognition can assist in facilitating and reclaiming the culture and heritage that is often lost to them.