University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Researchers Explore Roots of American Indian Resilience

Each week, inside the cafeteria of the New Directions enter, a Tucson behavioral health and substance abuse treatment facility, Tommy Begay channels heritage and history.

He calls on the Navajo prayers and practices he learned from his great-grandmother to help others heal.

“She taught me about this harmonious connection I could have with the universe,” he said. “She taught me about living a life of service.”

Like the people who join his talking circle at the center, Begay once battled addiction and trauma himself. Now, as a research associate with a joint appointment in the University of Arizona Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences and the College of Medicine's department of psychiatry, Begay is working to understand the roots of the suffering he has seen in many Native communities, including his own.

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