Quaker Indian Boarding Schools 2

Yesterday I wrote about Quaker Indian Boarding Schools and announced the workshop “Quaker Indian Boarding Schools, Facing Our History and Ourselves” that will be lead by Paula Palmer, and held at Scattergood Friends School and Farm, near West Branch, Iowa, July 7th from 9-11 am. As stated below, “for healing to occur, the full truth about the boarding schools and the policy of forced assimilation must come to light…The first step in a truth, reconciliation, and healing process, they say, is truth telling.”

Paula Palmer wrote an article with the same title in Friends Journal, October 1, 2016. which includes many fascinating quotations.

More than 100,000 Native children suffered the direct consequences of the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation by means of Indian boarding schools during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their bereft parents, grandparents, siblings, and entire communities also suffered. As adults, when the former boarding school students had children, their children suffered, too. Now, through painful testimony and scientific research, we know how trauma can be passed from generation to generation. The multigenerational trauma of the boarding school experience is an open wound in Native communities today.

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition says that for healing to occur, the full truth about the boarding schools and the policy of forced assimilation must come to light in our country, as it has in Canada. The first step in a truth, reconciliation, and healing process, they say, is truth telling. A significant piece of the truth about the boarding schools is held by the Christian churches that collaborated with the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation. Quakers were among the strongest promoters of this policy and managed over 30 schools for Indian children, most of them boarding schools, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The coalition is urging the churches to research our roles during the boarding school era, contribute this research to the truth and reconciliation process, and ask ourselves what this history means to us today.

Quaker Indian Boarding Schools: Facing Our History and Ourselves, by Paula Palmer on October 1, 2016

Other information about Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) and Native Peoples can be found here: https://kislingjeff.wordpress.com/?s=quakers+native

Recently my friend Peter Clay was able to attend the Truth and Healing conference at Pendle Hill. His first report of that follows. He asks a number of questions for us all to consider.

With support from Iowa Yearly Meeting and Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting I attended the Truth and Healing conference at Pendle Hill during the first week of May. The impact of this gathering on all who attended was profound. There was a rich diversity among those in attendance. Included were many Quakers and some non-Quakers. Many Indigenous people were also present, and their voices were given deeply respectful attention.

At the beginning, we acknowledged that we were gathered on the Lenapehokink — the traditional lands of the Lenape tribal nations. Do Des Moines Valley Friends ever think about on whose land our Meetinghouse is sited? Do we have permission to be here? The Iowa Tribe was here long before us and the place where we meet is certainly stolen land. Are Friends in our meeting ready to acknowledge these truths? Would we consider putting up a plaque on our building to plainly state on whose land we gather each week for worship? I invite all of us to reflect on these questions, and many others.

The terrible harm that Quakers knowingly participated in by overseeing about thirty of the more than 350 Indian Boarding Schools in the United States needs to be studied and fully acknowledged. Emphatically, it is NOT something in the past! The trauma that we caused reverberates to this day through intergenerational impacts on families. It is long past time to consider how we are led to speak and what actions we will take today in seeking to heal both ourselves and the Indigenous Peoples whom we harmed.

There is so much more to share. This is a start. Below is a partial description of the conference, from the Pendle Hill website:

“Both Canada and the United States of America are built on the so-called Christian Doctrine of Discovery, which purports to justify the theft of land and resources and the enslavement or destruction of many Nations. As descendants of European settlers, Quakers benefitted and benefit from this history. Even when well-intentioned, Quakers often played a paternalistic role with Indigenous Peoples, and US Quakers ran Indian Boarding Schools, enterprises designed to erase Indian language and culture from Native youth – “Kill the Indian . . . Save the Man.”

As Friends, we rarely talk about our continuing benefit from this history or about our roles as invasive peoples on what the Original Peoples of this land called Turtle Island. We invite Quakers from throughout Canada and the United States to gather at Pendle Hill to meet together with Indigenous people, to hear truth spoken plainly, to listen deeply with open hearts and minds, and to seek together ways of acknowledging ongoing and intergenerational injuries, owning responsibility, and repairing injustice as Spirit guides us.”

I joined those who gathered and I was changed by what I heard, saw and learned. Peter Clay



We begin by acknowledging that the Land between Two Rivers, where we sit and stand today, has been the traditional homeland for many independent nations. These include the Ioway and the Otoe, who were here since before recorded time. The Omaha and the Ponca were here, moving to new lands before white settlers arrived. The Pawnee used this land for hunting grounds. The Sioux, Sauk and Meskwaki were here long before European settlers came. Members of many different Indigenous nations have lived on these plains. Let us remember that we occupy their homeland and that this land was taken by force. Today, only the Meskwaki Nation, the Red Earth People, maintain their sovereignty on their land in the state of Iowa. They persevered and refused to be dispossessed of their home. Place names all over our state recognize famous Meskwaki chiefs of the 1800s like Poweshiek, Wapello, Appanoose, and Taiomah or Tama. We honor the Meskwaki Nation for their courage, and for maintaining their language, culture and spirituality. May our time together bring respectful new openings for right relationship to grow.

Iowa Acknowledgement Statement, reviewed by a member of the Meskwaki Nation
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