Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Dr Ruby Gibson of Freedom Lodge Is Helping To Change Our World

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If the human race is going to change the destiny of this world — from a self-destructive, dominant, suicidal, selfish existence to one that is built around the sanctity of life, collective justice and environmental balance — it will most likely be Indigenous women who make that happen.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Ruby Gibson.

Dr. Ruby Gibson is the co — founder and Executive Director of Freedom Lodge non-profit. In 2015, Dr. Gibson opened the Black Hills Historical Trauma Research & Recovery Center in Rapid City, SD.

For the past 35 years, Dr. Ruby Gibson has been dedicated to the craft and science of Historical Trauma recovery internationally and among our Native Peoples all around Turtle Island.

Dr. Gibson developed two intergenerational trauma recovery models Somatic Archaeology© and Generational Brainspotting™. She is the author of My Body, My Earth, The Practice of Somatic Archaeology, and My Body, My Breath Card Deck, a Tool for Transformation, co-designed with Ola Faye Thompson. Identifying our bodies and Mother Earth as parallel sources of biological, emotional and ancestral memory,

Dr. Gibson’s techniques were field tested for 25 years with amazing effectiveness. As a mixed — blood woman, Dr. Gibson’s life experience and ceremonial life guided her to develop these healing techniques. She has learned how to simplify the complexity of trauma recovery through the inspiration of her spiritual grandmothers and the four worlds of creation.

She believes we all have an amazing capacity to reconcile personal and cultural suffering when we have the proper skills.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Since I was 13 years old, I have known what I was going to do with my life path. I was riding my horse on the way home from work, and we came across a meadow with a single deer standing in front of me.

The horse came to a sudden halt. We looked at the deer, and it spoke to me clearly. “Do not eat us, it is not your way.”

Something special was happening. I had never heard an animal talk in a way I could understand. I knew there was medicine in this encounter, and so I made two decisions that fateful day. — I became a vegetarian for life and I chose to create a path to become a healer for life.

That was 51 years ago and I am following through with both decisions.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Freedom Lodge was incorporated in 1993, founded by myself and Tulley Spotted Eagle Boy (Micmac), to support the operations of the Mother Earth Lodge in New Brunswick during the apology to First Nations People in Canada.

Mother Earth Lodge did not have enough funding and closed their doors. But after one year, I applied for a job at a large foundation as an Indigenous Program Coordinator. The Board of Directors interviewed me and asked me what brought me there.

I told them the Grandmothers brought me. They asked me what I meant. I told them I had a dream. In my dream I was driving to a sweat lodge (inipi). A medicine man was in the backseat with his dog, and in the passenger seat was a grandmother.

She implored me to turn right three times, and I let her know that I knew the way, and she should relax. Eventually, the road we were on turned to dirt, then gravel, and crossed a creek, up a hill to a park with many people relaxing and playing. We all got out of the car.

The medicine man was arrested for having a dog in the park, and everything started going haywire. My grandmother looked at me and smiled. She winked at me, then whispered in my ear, “The moral of the story, granddaughter, is to always let the grandmother drive.”

The board looked at me with confusion and laughter. They said they would be in touch. Two weeks later, they contacted me to say that they had given the position to someone with more philanthropic experience than I had.

They asked me if Freedom Lodge had a bank account, which we did although we had never been previously funded. They told me that they loved my book and my work and wanted to fund our organization. I asked them if they needed a budget.

They said no, we already know how much we are going to grant you. The next day there was $250,000 in our account. I dropped to my knees and cried, praying for Mother Earth and the Grandmothers.

The following year, they offered to fund us again. It was a three-year grant for 1.2 million.

Abundance had found us and now we were able to fulfill our mission. Life is a beautiful mystery!

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Not really

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

Freedom Lodge has a beautiful website and we share on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, MailChimp announcements, Collaboration with conference producers, local school teacher and student workshops on Historical Trauma, Trainings on Historical Trauma for the nine reservations of South Dakota, actively interacting with our Tribal Communities, newspaper advertisements in Native Sun News, and dreaming with our BOD’s.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Kara Kaye Big Crow showed up on September 11, 2017 looking for a job as an office manager. The first time I interviewed Kara, I knew she was the right person for the job.

In our work at Freedom Lodge, we provide Historical Trauma Recovery training and sessions — which can commonly bring up lots of emotional material and memories. So, in addition to having office skills, new employees must be willing to be vulnerable, be able to support others, and are focused on their own recovery.

Ms. Big Crow grew up on the Pine Ridge Agency, home of the Oglala Sioux south of Rapid City. Pine Ridge is a rough place to live and grow up. Poverty, violence, crime, abuse, addiction and gangs overshadow the beauty of our ways, our ceremonies, our memories, our relationships and our health.

Kara Kaye Big Crow grew up in a rough world, starting drinking alcohol at the age of eight, beginning her early life of drug use, domestic abuse, pregnancies, and loss of innocence and life goals.

Freedom Lodge was actually the best environment for Kara Kaye Big Crow to heal her past. After years of drug use, alcoholism, near death experiences, and birthing six children, Kara began her work with Somatic Archaeology©.

By 2019, Kara Kaye Big Crow was a different person. Still the same sweet soul, but she was sober and healing. Gone was her anxiety, depression, regret, and anger, now replaced with self-confidence, empowerment and happiness. Her transformation was remarkable as she came out of her shell and began healing her family, her children, her spirit, and our community of the many generational deaths and assaults.

The ripple effect of her healing efforts allowed Kara Kaye Big Crow to come home to herself, to make her family system harmonious, and to find where she belongs. It was amazing!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

No, they do not understand or know what we actually do. We have trained the Rapid City Police Dept, the local hospital, the local politicians and presented around the world on this topic.

The training we provide is sufficient for the community’s recovery goals, but not accepted by most of the non-native political leaders here.

We live in a highly racist area where Native Americans are shunned and not respected.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I have thought about this question often.

Leadership at its best, is the ability to have a clear vision, manifest this vision with community support, inspire others how to do what I do, be consistent and reliable, be willing to do my own work, and have a social impact across Indian Country, and beyond.

Leadership is a trusted position in which a person must stand her ground.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I only have one item to share: Most of the shamans, healers and medicine people I have studied with told me that I would not be able to train others in what I do.

I was told that I had special skills that not everyone possesses. I did not agree with their assessment of my desires and goals, and so my feedback to their belief was, “Watch me!”

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Global Warming Woman

If the human race is going to change the destiny of this world — from a self-destructive, dominant, suicidal, selfish existence to one that is built around the sanctity of life, collective justice and environmental balance — it will most likely be Indigenous women who make that happen.

Lifting up and joining hands with women who recognize the importance of dispersing ancient wisdom to all people for the hope of human evolution and planetary healing is particularly vital right now. Indigenous women and girls carry the hope for our future as foot soldiers of solidarity.

They must be protected and given a safe place to gather and heal, to have a voice and find the freedom of choice. A primary consideration for this initiative must rest on the woman’s place within her community.

Honor, pride and self-acceptance strengthen the full circle of relatives.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how was that relevant to you in your life?

I believe that the only way to save humanity is for people of all races to work together.” AND “The greater the faith, the greater the results.” — both quotes are by Frank Fools Crow, Spiritual Leader of the Oglala Sioux.

Fools Crow was my first teacher, and I was a foster parent for two years of his seven great grandchildren. Freedom Lodge is dedicated to Frank Fools Crow.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

The Dalia Lama is a beautiful soul with much spiritual influence. I love to read about his life and his quotes. The Dalai Lama is an inspiration, a light for the world, a hope-bringer, and carries the beauty of his sacred dreams.

How can our readers further follow your work online? (Dr. Ruby Gibson)

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Dr Ruby Gibson of Freedom Lodge Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.