Residents Who Never Returned...

I hope y'all had a wonderful Fourth of July! I know that my husband and I enjoyed the fireworks display that our county put on on Saturday night.

Anyways, I wanted to continue the blog this week on a topic that I mentioned last week.


As I alluded to in last weeks' blog post, Freedom, there are some children in American history who have never been allowed to have a voice. These children were never allowed freedom. They were not allowed to be who they were born to be - to share in their families' culture - because the US government had a problem.


Well, actually the problem the government had was just a continuation of the problem that lead to the Trail of Tears: Native Americans not acting like they (the English colonizers) expected living on land that the European invaders wanted. Many of the native cultures are matriarchal society, where the women run the households. These ideas bothered the English and they required the Cherokee to change their societal roles, which hurt and later broke - with the New Echota split between Major Ridge and John Ross - the Cherokee into the three tribe nation that we know today. These three tribes are "the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians (UKB) in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation (CN) in Oklahoma, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in North Carolina". (1)


You've probably heard in the news recently about Kamloops Residential School in Canada. However, the tragedy of this mass grave of school children is not the only one like it. America also had residential schools which took Native American children from their homes.


"Two hundred years ago, on March 3, 1819, the Civilization Fund Act ushered in an era of assimilationist policies, leading to the Indian boarding-school era, which lasted from 1860 to 1978. The act directly spurred the creation of the schools by putting forward the notion that Native culture and language were to blame for what was deemed the country’s 'Indian problem.' " (2)


These schools treated the students horribly. I have included some articles in the resources section if you are interested in learning more, but because of these tragedies I am not going to speak about it in detail here. The general goal of the schools was to rescue the humans, but not their cultures.


"U.S. Army officer Richard Henry Pratt founded one of the first off-reservation, federally funded schools in 1879 – the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania." (3)


Officer Pratt was the one to come up with the phrase that played into the treatment the students received. His idea for the school was to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” (4).


The children "were voluntarily or forcibly removed from their homes, families, and communities during this time were taken to schools far away where they were punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional or cultural practices, stripped of traditional clothing, hair and personal belongings and behaviors reflective of their native culture. They suffered physical, sexual, cultural and spiritual abuse and neglect, and experienced treatment that in many cases constituted torture for speaking their Native languages." (5)


While this topic is very heavy and there isn't much that we can do to change what has already happened, we can do one thing which is to educate ourselves and to make sure this doesn't repeat itself. I hope that this country, who has for too long wanted forget that Indigenous people exist, will find a way to give back to those who have belonged to this land longer than those who came from Europe.


Footnotes:

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee

(2) https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/traumatic-legacy-indian-boarding-schools/584293/

(3) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/05/30/native-american-boarding-schools-abused-neglected-thousands-us/5263769001/

(4) http://www.nativepartnership.org/site/PageServer?pagename=airc_hist_boardingschools

(5) https://boardingschoolhealing.org/education/us-indian-boarding-school-history/


Resources:

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition ~ US Indian Boarding School History

National Public Radio (NPR) ~ American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many

Northern Plains Reservation Aid ~ History and Culture: Boarding Schools

USA Today ~ Mass grave of 215 children in Canada a stark reminder of the dark history of Native American boarding schools in US

Wikipedia ~ American Indian Boarding Schools


Video Resources (parents please use your discretion as there are many heartbreaking topics covered in some of these videos, topics can include sexual assault, beatings and other kinds of abuse):

Death at Residential Schools

History of Native American Boarding Schools Explained by TikTokers | NowThis

How The US Suppressed Native American Identity

Native American Boarding Schools

Schools tried to forcibly assimilate Indigenous kids. Can the U.S. make amends?

Stolen Children | Residential School survivors speak out

WATCH LIVE: Sec. Haaland addresses history of forced assimilation at Native American boarding school

84-year-old survivor of Kamloops residential school: 'There was rumours of a graveyard'