Boarding School: How the U.S. and Canada share a disturbing history

Boarding School: How the U.S. and Canada share a disturbing history


Warning: This story contains painful details.

A member of the U.S. Federal Cabinet said she cried when she heard it News from Canada An unmarked cemetery believed to be the remains of children near a former boarding school.

The news reminded Deb Haaland of her own Pueblo ancestors, such as her grandmother, who was taken away by her family when she was a child, got on the train, and was placed in an American boarding school for five years.

After crying, Harland took action.

The New Mexico politician now leads the federal department that runs the American Assimilation School—she was the first Native American to do so.

She launched an investigation into their heritage.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Harland was the first Native American to run the American assimilation school department. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

exist memorandum Speaking to the Department of the Interior last month, news from Canada should prompt people to reflect on what Americans call home-grown boarding schools.

She asked to submit a report on the school, their cemetery and the possibility of unidentified remains being found by next year.

“I know this process will be painful. It will not eliminate the heartbreak and loss we feel,” she said in her speech announcing the initiative.

“But only by acknowledging the past can we work for a future we are all proud of.”

It is appropriate that the campaign to assess the assimilation of school heritage in Canada and the United States should be carried out at the same time.

That’s because they are intertwined from the beginning.This point was put forward by the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission a few years ago Report.

2 countries with a common history

Architect of Canadian Boarding School Policy, in 1879 paper, Saw the boarding school just established in the United States, urge Canada created similar.

According to Nicholas Davin’s paper, the Canadian federal government opened three such schools in the future Saskatchewan in 1883.

The truth and reconciliation report stated that both countries have borrowed ideas from European renovation houses for the children of the urban poor.

Richard Pratt developed a model for boarding schools in the United States and influenced the creation of boarding schools in Canada. (United States Library of Congress)

Harland’s great-grandfather was taken to the institution that had the greatest impact on the Canadian project: the now-defunct Carlisle Indian Technical School in Pennsylvania.

The founder of that school, Army Officer Richard Pratt, is notorious Voiced The philosophy behind his plan: “Kill the Indians [in him] …Save this person,” meaning that indigenous people should be assimilated, not eliminated.

This philosophy has caused waves of trauma to the family.

“Our house is a battlefield”

Warren Petoskey from Lakota and Little Dawa states in Michigan said that one generation of children will be separated from their parents, which will affect their parenting of the next generation.

He said that his father would not talk about his experience in boarding school—just like his previous grandfather refused.

Petoskey said that his aunt was slapped by the teacher for speaking her mother tongue, and another woman he knew was beaten and injured her jaw for life.

76-year-old Warren Petoskey is still working hard to learn the language of his ancestors. He said that assimilation schools have caused immeasurable harm to his family. (Submitted by Warren Petoskey)

His aunt also described how a janitor sexually abused female students. He said that one of them was his family, and he said that she had suffered scars throughout her life.

Petoskey, 76, said: “I have never understood why our family is so dysfunctional.”

“Our house is a battlefield.”

Petoskey has worked hard all his life to learn Anishinaabe, the language of his ancestors, but his father refused to teach him.

Was taught to hate one’s own culture

Students are taught to hate their own culture.

It’s not just that the course presents a rose-colored version of American history and obscures disturbing details, like Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence -It talks about human beings being created equal, and then refers to indigenous peoples as “relentless Indian savages”.

In 1904, a young man in a metalworking class at the Assimilation School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. (United States Library of Congress)

It occasionally becomes more explicit.

In South Dakota, James Cadwell recalled that decades ago, in a boarding school run by his church, students were assigned to read books that called indigenous peoples savages.

“As I get older, I often think,’How much harm did this hurt me when I was young?'” Cardwell said in an interview.

Petoskey said that then there were rumors that the children died at school and were buried quietly.

Recheck the cemetery

A project is underway to find out whether any deaths in the Michigan school where Petoskey’s father attended were covered up. Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is collaborating with archaeological researchers to better understand the history of the school, which operated from 1893 to 1934.

Ione Quigley, the historical preservation officer of Rosebud Sioux, attended the funeral in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on July 14, where the children buried in the boarding school were dug up. (Matlock/Associated Press)

Official records show that several children died during school. However, the tribe’s own research raises a broader question: The 227 students enrolled there have no record of returning home.

Frank Clautier, a spokesman for the tribe, said there are several possible explanations: the child may have escaped, the file may be lost, or something more sinister may have happened.

“We don’t want to rush to these conclusions,” Clautier said.

“We don’t naively think that there will be no discoveries. But we want to deal with this issue in an orderly manner, with awe and respect.”

He said that news headlines from Canada help raise awareness of this issue.

The body was taken home

Repatriation ceremony of children’s remains Already in progress A local boarding school founded in Pratt, Carlisle School, Pennsylvania.

Tombstones of children who died at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. The property now belongs to the U.S. Army War College, and the military has a program that allows family members to move the remains of relatives. (United States Library of Congress)

Lauren Peters took home the body of her aunt Sophia Taitov.

The Unangax? girl was taken away from Alaska and spent five years at school from 1901 to 1906, although Peters said she was rarely in the classroom and was mostly loaned out to work as a domestic helper.

The girl contracted tuberculosis and died. On the tombstone of her school, her name was misspelled and her tribe was misidentified.

This month, Peters ensured that her relatives were buried in their home in Alaska, in the same cemetery as her family, next to a church on St. Paul’s Island.

She said that she was deeply moved during the ceremony.

Peters, a PhD student in Native American Studies at the University of California, attributed the start of the repatriation project to a group of school children.

she says Rose bud su The students were shocked when they saw the cemetery on the site of the Pennsylvania school, which closed in 1918.

Lauren Peters (right) and her son Andrew Peters arranged to remove the body of a relative who died in 1906 from the cemetery on the site of the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School. They held a funeral in Alaska and she was buried near her family. (Submitted by Curt Keester/US Army/Lauren Peters)

“From the mouths of the babies-they said:’Why are they still here? Why can’t we take them home?'” Peters said.

“This really started Process and [U.S.] The army” now owns the website. Relatives can submit documents to move the remains.

Peters said that Americans should prepare for news similar to Canadian news about undocumented deaths. In fact, she said: “I think the situation will be worse,” because there are more Native American boarding schools in the United States, more than 500 in total.

What will the US investigation find?

The author of a book on the history of Native American boarding schools said he was not sure whether the United States would find as many unmarked graves as it did in Canada.

David Wallace Adams said that schools in the United States (mainly government-run) are subject to more frequent inspections than Canadian institutions run mainly by churches.

“It remains to be seen,” he said in an interview.

Children play with undated photos outside the Indian Industrial Boarding School in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, which closed in 1934. The Saginaw Chippewa tribe is investigating the whereabouts of 227 students who disappeared from public records. (Submitted by the Ziibiwing Center for Anishinabe Culture and Lifestyle)

However his book, Extinction education, Records in detail the coercion, abuse and death that did occur in these American schools.

Adams wrote that by 1926, more than 80% of indigenous school-age children were attending boarding schools in the United States.

The system was severely criticized 1928 Think tank report and reappeared in Congressional research led by Senator Robert Kennedy Publish After he died.

“We were shocked by our findings,” the 1969 report said. Education in India: a national tragedy, a national challenge.

“Others before us were shocked. They made suggestions and made changes. Others after us might be shocked.”

It claims that the treatment of indigenous peoples is a stain on the national conscience.

At about the same time, in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson published a speech It’s called “The Forgotten American.”

This month, Lauren Peters arranged to bury the body of her aunt Sophia Taitov in a cemetery near her family on St. Paul Island, Alaska. (Submitted by Lauren Peters)

He called for an end to the assimilation policy and a shift to self-determination. Johnson designated special funds for community-driven courses.A sort of The landmark 1975 law Then transfer the power of the government-run schools to the tribe.

Today’s system

Ministry of the Interior Still running Today there are four non-reserved boarding schools Oklahoma, California, Oregon and South Dakota.

Harland said that these remaining schools bear little resemblance to their historical origins.

Once, children were beaten for speaking the language of their ancestors.

“I am encouraged now,” Harland told the Washington Post podcast.

“[Enrolment is also] Autonomy. ”

In April, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland attended a press conference at the Bear Ears National Monument in Utah. (Rick Bowmer/Associated Press)

Cardwell witnessed the cultural shift first-hand.

He recalled that he was a traumatized student in a boarding school run by a church in South Dakota more than half a century ago.

He would cry and sleep in the thunderstorm, and no one would come to comfort him.

He recalled an alcoholic pastor who drove his children around to drink-the pastor told them to keep silent about his drinking and let them smoke.

Later he became a teacher in the same school and changed his name Crow Creek Tribal School. Cardwell, who is now semi-retired, has taught arts and crafts, Dakota language, cultural courses and the cultivation of traditional crops such as carrots.

“I don’t remember digging radishes [as a student]. I don’t remember going to dance,” he said in an interview.

“If you fall and are injured, there is no parenting at all. There is no parenting.”

Around 1885, the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania showed students from Ciricahua Apache. (United States Library of Congress)


Anyone affected by the boarding school’s lingering influence, and those affected by the latest report, can get support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been set up to provide support to boarding school survivors and other affected people. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.

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