Native Americans Come Together on Indian Island For GONA 

Native Americans from throughout the United States and Canada have gotten together on Indian Island for the start of a three-day event.”The Gathering of Native Americans is gathering today to address historical trauma,” said Dale Lolar, a drug and alcohol counselor with the Penobscot Nation Counseling Service.GONA is based on the themes belongingness, mastery, interdependence, and generosity.”For the next few days, the Penobscot Nation, as well as the other tribal nations in the state of Maine, are coming together to think about wellness for our communities, to think about prevention for our communities, and to understand some of the challenges and symptoms that are affecting our communities and really try to think out of the box and bring services to best serve out tribal members,” said Seprieono Locario with the Native American Center For Excellence.Addressing internal struggles through healthy outlets is a focus over the course of the event.”I see a lot of people who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the conditions we were left with. The conditions that were put upon us and today is an opportunity to come and work some of there own trauma, or just to hear information about what it is,” said Lolar.Vaughn Nicholas traveled from Canada to share his life experiences.”I had some sort of anger for something, and that led me to drinking and drugs, and stuff like that, and then eventually, I got married and not knowing what it is. When you’re angry, and stuff like that, you take your anger out on those closest to you, which were my wife my kids, and they’re the ones that have really suffered,” said Nicholas.After he realized he was dealing with abuse that occurred growing up in residential schools in Canada, he says he was then able to start coping with his anger.He says it’s a good feeling to see the positivity being taught and shared here.”To be proud of who you are. That’s what the goal is. And seeing here, different people, you know, from different tribes laughing, you know what I mean, and feeling good about themselves,” said Nicholas.For more information on GONA, you can call the Penobscot Nation Cultural and Historic Preservation Department at 817-7472.