Two-Spirit storyteller-healer spreads cultural sensitivity

Two-Spirit storyteller-healer spreads cultural sensitivity

SEATTLE, WA: Terry Tafoya will speak during local conference.

When Terry Tafoya was named the state of Washington’s official Native healer, he wasn’t real happy about it.

“In our community, when you go to someone and ask, ‘Are you a traditional healer?’ if they say yes they are, then they’re probably not. If you go to a person and say, ‘Are you a traditional healer?’ and they say, ‘I know a little bit,’ then they probably are.”

A Taos Pueblo and Warm Springs Indian, Tafoya feels better being referred to as a traditional storyteller. But healing is what he does.

With traditional “interpreters” on both sides of his family, Tafoya grew up in a culture rich in story. With a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Washington, he still draws on those old stories in helping others find creative, alternative ways to deal with everything from grief to sexuality.

Tafoya’s use of ritual, ceremony, story and humor has taken him to people and places all over the world in need of his kind of medicine. And it’s bringing him here this weekend as part of “Our Role and Commitment in a Changing World,” a conference put together by the National Association of Social Workers Alaska Chapter. He’ll be giving a public talk, “Power, Politics and Passion: Cross-Cultural Issues of Sexuality,” an overview of how American concepts of sexuality and “disorders of desire” influence privacy, public opinion and choice.