My friend Foxy Onefeather recently posted this message and the photo/comments.
Our history books conveniently left the truth out. It breaks my heart and this is why I find it important for me to show up to testify to extend the statue of limitations, for the survivors of boarding schools. So that they can hold those schools accountableFoxy Onefeather
This breaks my heart, too. Separating children from their families is the worst thing I can imagine. Some of the worst photos and videos I’ve ever seen. Like the photo above. Like the photos of children alone in the Nazi concentration camps. Like the photos and videos of the children separated from their families at our Southern border right now.
I’ve been thinking about the mistreatment of children a lot recently, especially of native children and their families who were subjected to forced assimilation. Processes that continue to remove native children by social service agencies.
Hirsch’s research found that somewhere between 25 and 35 percent of all American Indian children had been placed in adoptive homes, foster homes or institutions. Around 90 percent of those children were being raised by non-Indians. Many would never see their biological families again.The Nation’s First Family Separation Policy. Forty years ago, three in 10 Indian children were taken from their families. October 9, 2018 Christie Renick, The Chronicle of Social Change
“Child rearing and the maintenance of tribal identity are ‘essential tribal relations’ [citation omitted]. By paralyzing the ability of the tribe to perpetuate itself, the intrusion of a State in family relationships within the Navaho [sic] Nation and interference with a child’s ethnic identity with the tribe of his birth are ultimately the most severe methods of undermining retained tribal sovereignty and autonomy.”Report of the American Indian Policy Review Commission
There are a number of reasons why I began to study about the Indian residential or boarding schools years ago. Initially this was because I heard about the Quaker Indian boarding schools. I thought I would learn how Quakers had helped the Native people and their children.
Instead, the more I learned the more horrified I became. I imagine many of the Quakers, individually, did they best they could, but there is no benevolent way to accomplish forced assimilation and cultural genocide. That would be like saying there is some good way to wage war. The fundamental premise in both cases is wrong.
The multigenerational trauma from those schools affects native families and communities today. I’ve seen the pain as my indigenous friends tell me of their own experiences related to those schools.
And this year as I studied about the Wet’suwet’en peoples and the rights of First Nations People in what is known as Canada, I learned about the trauma of residential schools there.
My friend Paula Palmer has been lead to make Quakers and others more aware of the boarding schools, and more broadly work “toward right relationship with Native peoples.” https://friendspeaceteams.org/trr/
The most recent article I’ve written summarizing some of what I’ve learned was March 19, 2020, Quaker Indian Residential/Boarding Schools.
The following are from the webinar Series Episode 1, “Truth in History: Federal Indian Boarding Schools in the U.S.” by Executive Director, Christine Diindiisi McCleave, M.A. (2/7/2019). The webinars are on the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition website.
The history Of the church and
Native Americans cannot be
overlooked, and in fact must be
addressed, for the well-being and
spiritual health of Native American
Church leaders who continue to
teach that Native American culture
is non-biblical or “evil” may be
perpetuating the cultural genocide
and human rights violations of
Indian boarding schools and other
Christians Who have criminalized
Taking an active role in
reconciliation and reparations as a
spiritual leader can help heal
generational trauma caused by
boarding schools and other
historical traumas and can produce
healthy Native Americans inside
and outside the church.
“The church and its leaders should not
ignore their role in the history of
assimilating Native Americans in North
America and the cultural and spiritual
devastation these actions brought.”
McCleave (2016) p. 93
“For Native peoples to follow Jesus, they
can best do so, not by becoming Christian,
but by following their traditional
ways—any religion that is based
exclusivist notions of salvation necessarily
becomes a religion tied to conquest and
empire.” —Speaker at a NAIITS (Native
American Institute of Indigenous