Client Story: Akua Native Healing Center

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A Journey of Healing and Rediscovery: From Darkness to Spiritual Fulfillment at Akua

Far from the serene landscape of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate reservation, one Akua Native Healing Center client found herself at a crossroads. As her life unfolded on the West Coast, hundreds of miles away from her roots, a new journey began.

I was born on the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate reservation in South Dakota but lived most of my life on the West Coast. I came to Akua as a 57-year-old Lakota woman who had tried, for the second time in my life, to end my life. I was spiritually dead inside. I had never had any good relationship with organized religion. I had also been carrying around the shame, guilt, and anger inside of me from all the abuses I suffered through as a child, beginning at the age of three.

After 54 years of living with the devastation and wreckage of that trauma, the void I’d felt my entire life got so large and so dark, and I was so exhausted from carrying all of this around by myself, that suicide felt like the only option left to end the pain. I started drinking and using when I was 14, and went to my first inpatient rehab at 41, after the first attempted suicide. It was an all-women’s facility and I relapsed within a year of getting out. I left there with no spirituality. My bottom wasn’t losing my job, or drunk driving, or becoming homeless. My bottom was trying to end it all.

When I first walked through the doors of the Akua Native Healing Center, I was broken, angry, ashamed, and desperate for real change. I received critically needed therapy from my amazing therapist, Sydney, whom I connected with immediately.

I learned much about myself, my addiction, and my trauma through all the groups and meetings we attended. I found a connection to my Native culture at Akua. They took us to the Drumming Circle at SNAHC, where I was introduced to other Native people, some drummed, some danced, some beaded, and it felt like home.

Akua has a Cultural Advisor, Nathan Blacksmith, who does a weekly group that we all look forward to. His teachings opened our eyes to our culture and history I will always cherish. We read from the Wellbriety Meditation book every morning, and I began to smudge and pray outside as the sun rose each morning. I had my first sweat and left the wreckage of my trauma there.

Akua gave me healing in many, many ways. The most important way Akua changed my life is they gave me the time and space to find my Creator. Wakan Tanka is my Higher Power, and I know, for the first time in my life, I am not spiritually alone. That void, that darkness I walked in with was gone. I am no longer broken. I now know I have value and purpose. I now have coping skills, tools, NA, and the Native community to help me stay on the Red Road.

Part of my daily prayer asks for help in guiding me in becoming the person the Creator intended me to be, and today I have no doubt I am becoming that person. Akua was the best decision I’ve ever made for my mental and spiritual health.

I am forever thankful to Director Dena, for her patience, love, and understanding as well as for her hiring the most caring, capable, knowledgeable, and compassionate team of people to spend our daily lives with.

With Gratitude,


We appreciate our client’s bravery and honesty in sharing her story. If you or someone you love is struggling, we invite you to our transformation space for healing. We are available anytime, 24/7 at 888-629-6707.


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