The very existence of American Indian communities is testament to their resilience! They have existed in the Americas for 30,000 to 60,000 years, despite facing ever-increasing contacts with diverse civilizations, cultures and religions; attempts to destroy their cultures, religion, language and way of life; as well as disease, war and poverty that threatened their very existence.

American Indian resilience is based upon a way of life, rather than an organized religion. Its origins predate organized religion, with elements surviving from not only oral traditions but also experiential faith. While there are many diverse groups, clans, tribes, languages, religions and concepts of spirituality, the ideas that all is sacred and all is related would be generally accepted: there is no place where the Great Spirit or Creator, or whatever name might be used, is not present. One learns the truths from elders, family and mentors. One observes the harmony in nature, the interconnectedness of all things, and one’s place in the universe. American Indian resilience in facing death and bereavement is based upon a worldview that all is related, that reciprocity is the basis of life and that ritual and power are the keys to managing life’s ills. The use of humor, the silence of words, and rituals are the major means of managing grief.