One of the most beautiful things Nancy has ever seen is the sight of the stars in the night sky through the opening of a teepee. This image could be a metaphor for the rich inner life she cultivates, reflected in the choice of books resting on her bedside table: When Women Were Birds; The Shape Shifter; Children Left Behind; God Is Red; and In a Sunburned Country, among others.
On the Jicarilla Apache Nation reservation in Dulce, New Mexico, where she has lived with her family for 5 years, Nancy Miquelon is both trusted and respected. This is a difficult thing for her to have accomplished as a nonnative. Her invaluable contributions to the subject of the little-known syndrome of unresolved historical trauma among Native Americans have been applauded, presented at international conferences, and even pronounced “good work” by a local medicine man.
“I am currently a mental health counselor working in the Dulce Middle School. My husband, Jeff Versaw, is a social worker at Head Start. We have had the privilege of becoming quite involved in many community activities.” Asked how she feels about living where she lives, Nancy answers, “I like it because it is like living in a foreign country. We have had the privilege of learning the culture here, gaining people’s trust, seeing the world through different eyes...”
Nancy’s circumstances did not always allow for such an all-encompassing view of the world. For 13 years she was involved in the Emissaries of Divine Light, a group her husband at the time began to suspect was cultic. That initial inkling led to his seeking help for them through counseling. As a result, “We walked out.”
Through cult networks, Nancy found ICSA (then called AFF). She began to work with the organization, and she has been volunteering her expertise with Carol Giambalvo and the team that organizes and facilitates workshops for former members “for over 20 years.”
When asked what effect she hopes she has on the world, Nancy answers, “I don’t know if I think I can have an effect on the world; but if I help someone breathe easier, accept him- or herself more, know their own power, I will have done enough.”
Weaving through the work she does on the reservation and in ICSA, her friends, and those who inspire her is “a common thread of people speaking the truth, confronting issues of abuse of power, and promoting acceptance of people for who they are without meeting the values and conceptions of the dominant culture.”
Nancy’s household consists of herself, her husband, her mother, her two stepchildren (now in college), two cats, one dog, and a turtle.
The city where I live is a town of about 3,000... We have no stoplights. We have one grocery store, one gas station, one hotel, one casino, three schools... We live in a beautiful place, in a very rural place, working in meaningful work and probably learning and receiving more than we give. It is amazing.
Nancy Miquelon, LPC, LPCC, is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor specializing in trauma recovery in adults and children. In practice for more than twenty years, she is a cofounder and sits on the board of reFOCUS.