Date of Award

Fall 9-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies

First Advisor

Mitchell Kossak, PhD

Second Advisor

Kelvin Ramirez, PhD

Third Advisor

Nicolas Mazza, PhD


Narrative and storytelling creates a formidable foundation for individuals to convey their lived experiences. Utilizing indigenous arts-based research (ABR), poetics as an inquiring and exploratory tool, and an ABR interviewing technique called poetic emergence by the researcher, this study asked two essential questions: What are the lived experiences of individuals in and outside of carceral states? Will these experiences reflect certain aspects of an individual’s life journey? The purpose of this study was to explore the embodied voices and lived experiences of adult Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), diagnosed with mental health issues who were formerly incarcerated (n=3) along with BIPOC that worked with this population (n=4). The researcher combined personal narratives of the participants, found poetic and reflective/reflexive fieldnotes, and storytelling and created the term poetraiture, as a presentation. The findings conveyed the participants’, who the researcher referred to as Winged Warriors, experiences during and after their time in this setting. Using the indigenous arts-based research (ABR), the Winged Warriors reported their emotional, psychological and traumatic lived experiences in this setting and its impact on their lives and others. Findings showed how an indigenous arts-based approach created an embodied, engaging, and non-intrusive space without re-traumatization. Furthermore, this study suggests that the use of indigenous ABR may provide opportunities for critical reflection and space for creativity and prosocial behaviors. This process may promote changes needed to realize transformations both in individuals and communities towards sustainability. It is my hope that you are touched by the skin of their words


Author Identity Statement: The author identifies as a straight, African American Queen from New York City of African ancestry.



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