This feature was originally written at a time when the United States is preparing to gather around the table with loved ones in thanks, founded on a skewed history of relationship between colonizers and Indigenous peoples.
Canada’s continued discovery of mass graves surrounding retired Native boarding schools provides a sobering mirror for the US, for that same ugly history exists on this soil too. In 2011, The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition was created to support the healing of inter-generational traumas and the social, emotional, spiritual, and cultural devastation from boarding school experiences affecting Native American individuals, families, communities and Tribal Nations today.
By 1926, nearly 83% of Indian school-age children were attending boarding schools.
1900: 20,000 children in boarding schools
1925: 60,889 children in boarding schools
“The truth about the US Indian boarding school policy has largely been written out of the history books, and it’s still unknown how many students attended. Many have estimated that there were nearly 500 government-funded Native American boarding and day schools across the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, and NABS has identified 357 boarding schools alone. (*Trigger warning*) In boarding schools, Indigenous children were forcibly abducted by government agents, sent to schools hundreds of miles away, and beaten, starved, or otherwise abused when they spoke their native languages.”
Their “why” in their words
“Truth. Healing. Justice. Reconciliation. These words carry different meaning for Americans today, depending on what side of history you hail from. If you’re Native American, you know that Justice in Indian Country cannot be fully realized without a major shift in our national narrative. Namely, that the U.S. has never accepted responsibility for its Boarding School experiment—the forced removal of our children, the prohibition of our language and culture, and the violation of our human, civil, and indigenous rights.”
“The fate of the many Indigenous children who never returned home after forced removal by the US to Boarding Schools, including those in the many unmarked graves at former Boarding School sites, remains an ongoing human rights violation under international law.”
— ANDREA CARMEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL INDIAN TREATY COUNCIL.
Compassion and solidarity bloom from roots of awareness and understanding. As a means of reparations, join me in learning more
about the history of boarding schools, the work being done
today to help Native communities heal from this trauma, and by donating
not as means of charity but of solidarity.
For non-Native allies
✷ Spread the word: Share posts from @nabshc on Instagram and Twitter. Help build the grassroots movement for #TruthJusticeHealing from Indian boarding schools.
For Native American community members who need