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Unveiling the Complex Dynamics of Indigenous Lateral Violence


As the reconciliation movement reverberates across our nation, Indigenous Peoples are beginning to untangle the myriad of challenges faced as a result of colonization. One of the key internal issues that often remains overlooked is the phenomenon of lateral violence. This blog post endeavors to illuminate the intricacies of Indigenous lateral violence, delving into its complexities and examining possible paths toward healing and reconciliation.

Understanding Lateral Violence:

Lateral violence refers to the harmful behaviors that individuals within a marginalized group direct towards each other. In the context of Indigenous communities, this manifests as conflict, aggression, and discrimination among members. While external forces such as colonization, displacement, and discrimination have undoubtedly impacted our communities, it is essential to recognize and address the internal struggles that exacerbate Indigenous Peoples.

Root Causes:

1. Historical Trauma: The legacy of colonization has left deep scars on Indigenous communities. The trauma experienced by previous generations often gets transmitted through familial and communal structures, contributing to a cycle of pain and suffering.

2. Internalized Oppression: Members of Indigenous communities may internalize the negative stereotypes imposed by external entities. This internalized oppression can lead to feelings of inadequacy, shame, and resentment, which are then projected onto fellow community members.

3. Limited Resources: The scarcity of resources, both economic and social, can create intense competition within Indigenous communities. This competition may manifest as lateral violence as individuals contend with their place within the community.

Impacts on Community Well-being:

1. Erosion of Social Fabric: Lateral violence can fracture the social cohesion within Indigenous communities. Trust is eroded, leading to weakened support networks, and hindering collective progress.

2. Mental Health Challenges: Individuals subjected to lateral violence may experience heightened stress, anxiety, and depression. The cumulative impact of these mental health challenges can perpetuate the cycle of violence and negatively affect the overall well-being of the community.

Breaking the Cycle:

Community Dialogue and Conflict Resolution

To foster harmony within the community, it is imperative to establish open forums for dialogue where conflicts and grievances can be addressed constructively. By providing a safe space for community members to express their concerns and engage in meaningful conversations, we can promote understanding and empathy. These forums should encourage active listening and constructive problem-solving, empowering individuals to work collaboratively towards resolving disputes. Emphasizing the importance of communication can contribute to the creation of a more united and resilient community.

Education on Trauma-Informed Practices

Recognizing the profound impact of historical trauma, implementing educational programs on trauma-informed practices becomes essential. These initiatives aim to equip community members with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to trauma sensitively. By fostering an understanding of the interconnectedness between historical events and present-day challenges, individuals can approach conflicts with greater compassion. Through education, the community can work towards creating an environment that acknowledges the effects of trauma and promotes healing on a collective level.

Cultural Exchange and Collaboration

Strengthening the bonds between communities is achievable through the facilitation of cultural exchange programs with neighboring Indigenous groups. These initiatives not only encourage collaboration but also provide opportunities for the sharing of traditional knowledge and practices. By celebrating cultural diversity and learning from one another, communities can break down barriers, build mutual respect, and establish a foundation for collective growth. Cultural exchange becomes a powerful tool in fostering unity and understanding among diverse Indigenous groups.

Inclusive Decision-Making Processes:

In order to mitigate power imbalances that may contribute to lateral violence, it is crucial to ensure that decision-making processes within the community are inclusive, transparent, and participatory. Creating an environment where every voice is heard and valued promotes a sense of shared responsibility and ownership. Inclusive decision-making not only strengthens community cohesion but also addresses potential sources of internal conflict arising from feelings of exclusion. By embracing transparency and participation, communities can build a foundation for trust and collaboration, ultimately breaking the cycle of lateral violence.


Indigenous lateral violence is a complex and deeply rooted issue that requires a multifaceted approach for resolution. By acknowledging historical trauma, addressing root causes, and fostering cultural pride, Indigenous communities can work towards breaking the cycle of lateral violence and building a foundation for a stronger, more resilient future.

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