It's almost time to change the calendar.
Let's dance the NEW YEAR so the earth can feel us!
The earth loves us, remember. We belong to her.
Settle in and celebrate 2022.
I love you all. Be well. Be kind.Trace Lara Hentz
It's almost time to change the calendar.
Let's dance the NEW YEAR so the earth can feel us!
The earth loves us, remember. We belong to her.
Settle in and celebrate 2022.
I love you all. Be well. Be kind.Trace Lara Hentz
Wow. Canada is setting aside $40 billion to compensate Indigenous children and families in foster care for suffering discrimination, and will start paying out once a protracted lawsuit is settled, officials said on Monday.https://t.co/qw4fw4Sg4w— Angela Sterritt (@AngelaSterritt) December 15, 2021
OTTAWA, Dec 13 (Reuters) - Canada is setting aside C$40 billion ($31.2 billion) to compensate Indigenous children and families in foster care for suffering discrimination, and will start paying out once a protracted lawsuit is settled, officials said on Monday.
The compensation decision affects some 55,000 children.
In 2018, a young Indigenous mother named Jermain Charlo left a bar in Missoula, Montana, and was never seen again. After two years and thousands of hours of investigative work, police believe they are close to solving the mystery of what happened to her. We go inside the investigation, tracking down leads and joining search parties through the dense mountains of the Flathead Reservation. As we unravel this mystery, the show examines what it means to be an Indigenous woman in America.
Stolen is hosted by Connie Walker.
Growing up in Inuvik, in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in Canada’s Western Arctic, I lived next to a group home.
The children – Inuvialuit like me – were in the care of Northwest Territories social services, separated from their families, sometimes far from their home communities, with no connection to their identity.
Even as a child, I could see how hard it was for them, going through life and school without any people, without any sense of who they were in the world.
This week, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which was established in 1984 to represent the Inuvialuit under one of Canada’s oldest and most comprehensive land claim agreements, passed our first law: Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat.
This law re-establishes our jurisdiction over child and family services, and in doing so, makes us the first Inuit region to assert this important right.
Duane Ningaqsiq Smith is the chair and CEO of Inuvialuit Regional
Corporation, which represents the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik,
Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk and Ulukhaktok in the Northwest
A trip that Indigenous leaders were supposed to take to Rome later this month for a meeting with the Pope has been postponed because of the pandemic, said RoseAnne Archibald, National Chief for the Assembly of First Nations, on Tuesday.
Leaders with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) were scheduled to meet with Pope Francis on Dec. 20 to seek an apology for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in running residential schools. The Métis and Inuit were supposed to meet the Pope earlier that week.
Hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered earlier this year at former residential schools across the country. The schools — sponsored by the government and mostly run by the Catholic Church — were set up to assimilate Indigenous youth into Canadian culture by removing them from their families and communities. Many Indigenous children were abused and/or died at the schools.
In September, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops apologized for “grave abuses that were committed by some members of (the) Catholic community” at the schools.
Archibald told First Nations leaders who’d gathered virtually for three days that the AFN has asked the church to: return diocese lands to Indigenous Peoples; increase the $30 million the church announced in September for long-term healing; and encourage the Pope to meet with Indigenous leaders on traditional lands when he visits Canada. The Pope has agreed to meet with Indigenous Peoples when he travels to Canada, but no date has been set for his visit.
Archibald went on to tell attendees that the AFN plans to hold the government to account for forcing Indigenous children to attend residential schools.
“We continue to call for accountability,” she said. “Someone must be charged for the deaths of our children. There must be examinations to determine if our children were murdered. Canada must be held to account, and they have to be held responsible for their genocidal laws and policies.”
Archibald said Canada shouldn’t be allowed to investigate itself, and that the AFN would be reaching out to the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to file a human-rights complaint, and to pursue remedies “for the victims of genocide.”
“We need to know the truth before we can walk the road to reconciliation,” she said.
The government of Sweden is the most recent to announce that it will investigate “irregularities” in the last 60 years of international adoptions, focusing in particular on China and Chile.
Around 60,000 children have been adopted to Sweden, most originally from South Korea, India, Colombia, and Sri Lanka.
Results of the investigation are expected to be released in November 2023.
In February 2021, The Netherlands froze international adoptions after adult adoptees raised concerns about adoptions from Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. A government commission found some adoptions, dating back to the 1960’s and through the 1990’s, where children had been stolen or bought.
An additional article about Sweden’s investigations from February 2021 is available here.
By the early 20th century, more than 80% of all Native children attended Indian boarding schools. In California, the largest were the Fort Bidwell Indian School near Upper Alkali Lake in Modoc County, the St. Boniface Indian Industrial School in Banning, in Riverside County 85 miles east of Los Angeles, and the Sherman Institute in Riverside. In addition to the poor education that was geared toward the service industry, there was a summer “outing program” where students worked throughout Southern California. Many boys would spend their summers working on citrus farms in the Riverside area. Girls would work as domestic servants for people in Anaheim and other cities.
The opportunities for abuse and exploitation of these children were enormous and to this day have not been documented.
USD’s 69th Harrington Lecture was led by Beth Boyd, director and professor in the USD clinical psychology program, presenting “Mitákuye Oyás ‘iŋ (We Are All Related): Reflections to Learning to Become a Relative.”
The Harrington Lecture is an annual event featuring a USD professor established on campus within the College of Arts and Sciences. Featured speakers are recommended by a faculty committee. The lecture is based on the speaker’s scholarly work.
Boyd is a member of the Turtle Clan of the Seneca Nation and the USD Disaster Mental Health Institute (DHMI).
“I aspire to honor and respect the indigenous peoples who were forcibly removed from here and are still connected to this territory. By owning my part in their continued displacement, I am incorporating indigenous knowledge into my work and establishing meaningful reciprocal relationships with indigenous peoples and communities,” Boyd said
Boyd participated in the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest, the Presidential Task Force on PTSD and Trauma in Children and Adolescents, the Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention & Training and the Minority Fellowship Program Training Advisory Committee. She was also president of the APA Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race and the Society for the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities.
“Over the years, I’ve watched many of my colleagues reflect on liberal arts education, on what they’ve learned, the work they have done over the years, the contributions and their hopes about the future of their fields. And so I have also done a lot of reflection over this last year,” Boyd said.
Boyd said that looking through a lens of liberation psychology at the past fosters healing and awareness of inequality.
“Liberation psychology encourages empowerment, healing and transformation that fosters an awareness of discrimination and inequality, and fortifies individuals strengths. It affirms cultural identities and promotes change to attenuate human suffering and improve people’s lives in multiple contexts, including cultural-historical, gender, sexual orientation, socio-political, geopolitical and other intersecting factors,” Boyd said.
Boyd’s lecture covered the removal of Native children from their homes. Boyd said over 80,000 native children were separated from their families, and said some children were put into foster care, while others were put into residential schools.
“Between 1867 and 1990, thousands of Native American children were taken from their homes and families by the U.S. and Canadian governments. Most of them were taken to Indian residential schools,” Boyd said. “Both, regardless of where they were, had the same goal in mind: to assimilate Native American children into U.S. or Canadian society and to obliterate their familiarity with their native heritage.”
In 1958, the Bureau of Indian Affairs created the Indian Adoption Act in an attempt to assimilate Native children and end tribes, Boyd said. The act took Native children away from their families as they were adopted by white families. In 1966, the Adoption Resource Exchange, including private agencies and churches, took over. By the end of the 1970s, one-third of all Native children, estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 children, were separated from their families.
I met Joanne in the mid 1990s - and interviewed her for News From Indian Country. I am devastated by this news she has passed.
Joanne Shenandoah-Tekaliwakwa, 1957-2021
Legendary Oneida Singer, Songwriter and Peace Humanitarian
She had a bright voice like liquid gold, a luminous heart and a magnetic smile.— indianz.com (@indianz) December 6, 2021
Joanne Shenandoah-Tekaliwakwa was a multi-talented musician, humanitarian and matriarch. #JoanneShenandoah #NativeMusic #Obituaries https://t.co/AeuzFsCaZa
2021 National Day of Mourning 11.25.21 12 noon Cole's Hill, Plymouth, MA (hill above Plymouth Rock)
NEW MEXICO: There was an increase in Native American children entering the system—from 134 or 6.1 percent in 2019 to 147 or 7.4 percent in 2020. The increase of Native children in the foster care system happened after children’s biological or legal guardians have passed. Native American families often live with several generations in one house, and we saw that, tragically, many family members in one household would contract COVID.
Take action now to stop this horrific attack on Native rights! https://t.co/WjXC3cDybi— Lakota Law Project (@lakotalaw) December 6, 2021
There was an increase in Native American children entering the system—from 134 or 6.1 percent in 2019 to 147 or 7.4 percent in 2020. https://t.co/yvHl442Emf pic.twitter.com/IN2G0Xl72G
“Indigenous resistance” doesn’t cut it. Fighting back against murder and enslavement so widespread = genocide.— Stacy Parker Le Melle (@StacyLeMelle) December 5, 2021
Those who refuse to acknowledge the trauma adoptees experience likely have never had to submit an empty page when attempting to complete "Family Tree" or "Life Timeline" assignments in school or write "N/A" in the Family Medical History section on forms at the doctor's office.— Christina (@DiaryAdoptee) December 6, 2021
Bank of Canada to work with Indigenous groups on reconciliation https://t.co/phOk6Es43u— Trace kalala Hentz (@StonePony33) December 6, 2021
For Skolt Sámi Heini Wesslin, loss of language has been the tough issue in her life, while Inari Sámi Rauni Mannermaa still feels the burden of her days in a dormitory.
The stories and experiences of Wesslin and Mannermaa are familiar to the Sámi. The old events that still cause pain for the next generations would presently be considered serious violations. The purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is to look at these issues now.
After years of preparation, the historical Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission has started its work. The objective is to acknowledge and assess the wrongdoings that have been, and are still being, done against the Sámi. In addition, the Commission also aims at admitting and assessing the State’s assimilation policy and violations of rights.
The report of the Commission is to be submitted by the end of November 2023. Before that, the Commission has an enormous amount of work to do. The variety of experiences and expectations equals the number of people, but there is a common history behind them all.
Heini Wesslin lives in the village of Sevettijärvi in the northeastern part of Inari Municipality. There is a strong sense of Skolt Sámi community in the village, and the local language and culture play a central role in Wesslin’s everyday life. But this has not always been the case.
When Wesslin was six, her family moved from her parent’s home village Sevettijärvi to Utsjoki. Wesslin got her primary and secondary education there. Although Utsjoki is in the Finnish Sámi Area, it is not the home region of the Skolt Sámi. Thus Wesslin did not get to learn about the Skolt Sámi and their culture at school.
Later, life and studies took Heini Wesslin to Helsinki, Inari and Rovaniemi. Finally, twelve years ago, she returned to Sevettijärvi. She moved there above all because she wanted to give her children a sense of belonging from the very day they were born.
“Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Sápmi, I have not lived in my own community. Therefore, it felt natural and important to move here.”
The Skolt Sámi language has had a great impact on Heini Wesslin’s choices in life. She did not learn her native language from her mother, who believed that not knowing the language would make Heini’s life easier. But Heini began to study the language as soon as it was possible.
At first, speaking the language was difficult for Heini Wesslin: she felt that she should already know the language. Today, she accepts that she does not always speak correctly, but at least she uses the language.
She speaks Sámi with her children. The children speak Skolt Sámi also with their grandmother, but for Wesslin herself it does not yet feel natural to speak the language with her mother.
“It’s extremely difficult to switch languages with certain people.”
At present, Heini Wesslin knows the language and lives in a community with a strong Skolt Sámi culture. However, she has sometimes bad feelings about not having learned the language as a child.
“I’ve thought a few times that I could also be doing something else in the evenings instead of conjugating Skolt Sámi verbs via Teams.”
At first, Wesslin used doing Sámi handicraft, or duodji, to build up a connection to her culture.
“There’s also another language I speak: duodji.”
Wesslin began to wear the traditional Sámi clothing after her secondary education. She had crafted the Skolt Sámi dress together with her grandmother. Wearing Skolt Sámi clothing, finally, evoked many feelings in her.
“It was an important thing. I didn’t have a very strong sense of belonging then. It took a while to feel part of the community.”
At present, she makes the clothes for both her children and parents, helping them wear them. Wesslin’s parents belong to the generation who had to stay in dormitories, so they never learned to wear the traditional clothing. When Wesslin dressed her children in Skolt Sámi clothing, her parents also dared to start wearing it.
Today, she is a carrier of culture – as a result of many conscious choices. She did not get to learn about her culture at school, but hopes that everyone will have the opportunity in future.
“The biggest problem is that we’re not allowed to learn about ourselves. We learn the history and way of thinking of the dominant culture.”
|archive photo TRC|
Stephanie Scott, who has been with the NCTR since 2016, had only been in her new leadership position for a little over two months when 215 remains were located in unmarked graves on the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
Scott remembers being in bed when the texts started rolling in about the news. Despite being aware of the existence of the graves, “it was still horrendous news to get.”
The NCTR will not be part of a delegation heading to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis – but if she was going her message would be “give us the records.” The Catholic church ran 65 residential schools.
She says negotiations with the church for over one thousand boxes of documents have been going on for years. The NCTR has been given access to five of those boxes.
As for the apology by the Pope, on Canadian soil, Scott says it would be wonderful to see the Pope “in a pipe ceremony, acknowledging our peoples and cultures and the harms that took place and really understanding what they tried to destroy and how important that is for our people to continue on the path of reconciliation.” SOURCE
WARNING: This story contains distressing details.
A co-lead plaintiff in a national class action on behalf of Métis and non-status Indian survivors of the Sixties Scoop says she wants to be a voice for all of them after hearing that some feel they won't have a say in the legal proceeding.
"That is very good information for me to know," Shannon Varley said. "I want to try and help all these people."
The Sixties Scoop refers to the Canadian practice — from the early 1950s until the early 1990s — of taking children from Indigenous families and placing them for adoption with non-Indigenous parents. Many of the affected children lost their Indigenous identity and suffered mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Varley said she grew up on a farm about 75 kilometres northeast of Regina, not realizing she was Indigenous or adopted.
She said she grew up in a very loving adoptive family and felt "totally included."
Varley said she was 11 years old when her adoptive family told her that she had been adopted through the Adopt Indian Métis (AIM) program when she was an infant.
When a staph infection killed Molly Cordell’s mother just before Halloween in 2015, Molly felt, almost immediately, as if she were being shoved out of her own life. At 15, she and her sister, Heaven, who was a year younger, had no idea where they would go. Their dad had been in and out of their lives for most of their childhood. His grief, as their mother lay dying, sent him spinning. It seemed to the girls that he was on too much meth, and whenever he used, he got mean and crazy. Once, he made Heaven watch him set their mom’s Chevy truck on fire. Their older brother, Isaiah, left their home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains when their mom was still alive, and the teenage girls depended on each other. Molly was deaf in her left ear, and her sister always asked others to speak loudly for her. They shared the same group of friends, the same tanks and capri pants. Although Molly had her own bedroom, she slept on the couch in Heaven’s.
The girls moved in with their grandmother, up the road from their wood-paneled house in Cherokee County, North Carolina, a poor, sprawling region at the southwesternmost edge of the state. Their dad lived in a camper in the yard. Their grandmother, too, was trapped in an angry stage of mourning, looking for someone to blame for her daughter’s death. She kept telling Molly and Heaven that it was their fault — if only they’d taken better care of their mom, she might be alive. Molly was starting to believe it.
The key words: dehumanize, dead, Indians
In the 2016 book ‘Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums’, Samuel J Redman notes: “The campaign to preserve and collect was viewed as a race against time; bone empires benefited from this powerful sentiment by conceptualising indigenous and ancient bodies as a limited and scientifically valuable resource.”
The history of these collections is dramatic, occasionally punctuated by unexpected twists. The story emerges from an ongoing competition to establish the largest and most prestigious museums in cities across the United States. At times driven by both ego and intellect, scientists established a new field as they collected, their studies working to shape ideas about race and what it means to be human. For scientists who collected the dead, the desire to obtain remains for growing bone rooms often suspended or displaced codes of ethical behavior. Museum curators, as well as amateur collectors, competed and collaborated to understand the body as a scientific object; at the same time, visitors to museums that displayed bodies were continually enthralled, almost surprised, by the humanity of ancient and recent bodies they found exhibited before them.
This is an adapted excerpt from Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums, published by Harvard University Press.
Jacob Tix̂lax̂ Stepetin remembers growing up in his aunties’ and uncles’ homes, listening to Metallica.
“Aang, Tix̂lax̂ asax̂takuq. Unangax̂ akuq. Akutanam ilan angix̂takuq,” Stepetin introduces himself in Unangam Tunuu. “My name is Jacob, or Tix̂lax̂, my Unangax̂ name. I’m from Akutan, which is a village in the Aleutians on Akutan Island. That’s where I grew up most of my childhood. So that’s home for me.”
Stepetin said heavy metal was popular when he was growing up in the Unangam village of about 100 people
“As a kid, that was just one of the types of music that I was surrounded by, and I latched on to that,” he said. “I would spend a lot of time at my cousin’s house and my older cousins were all into metal, they all played Metallica, they all played instruments.”
Stepetin started his music journey at the age of 12 and has been dialing in his metal riffs ever since. In 2014, he began playing music with his college roommate, another Indigenous metalhead.
Together, they founded the Indigenous heavy metal group Merciless Indian Savages. Stepetin plays lead guitar. The band’s music addresses a lot of heavy topics, some that come from their own experiences. They have song titles like “Pseudo Savior,” “Manifest Death” and “Kill the Man/Save the Indian.”
The song titles grab your attention, but Stepetin said the point is to create an opportunity to talk about Indigenous issues.
“I think our lyrical content focuses a lot on things that make us angry about the Indigenous experience,” Stepetin said. “I feel like you could also write a lot of really positive music. But that’s the nature of the genre. You know, we’re metalheads, we’re passionate about metal. And so the nature of the genre isn’t really positive.”
Listen to this story:
Each song that the band writes highlights an aspect of the Indigenous experience. But more specifically, Stepetin said, they want to call attention to “the histories and systems that perpetuate colonization.”
“In the Declaration of Independence, it calls the Indigenous people of the land, ‘Merciless Indian Savages,’” said Stepetin.
He said that racist language in the Declaration was included in a list of wrongdoings the king of England had committed against the United States.
“And one of those bad things [it says] is, ‘He has brought on the merciless Indian savages,’ and then says something about how they only know about war and death, or killing or something like that,” Stepetin said. “So it’s pretty brutal. And it’s obviously extremely racist, which is not a surprise for something that was written in the 1700s.”
The statement in the Declaration of Independence that Stepetin is referring to is this:
“He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
According to Stepetin, their band name is an educational opportunity to bring awareness to issues impacting Indigenous people of North America.
“I don’t think we’re trying to embrace this name as if it’s a valid description for who we are. It’s like an intentional misnomer,” he said.
After graduating college in 2019, Stepetin and his fellow band members relocated to Tempe, Ariz., the ancestral homelands of the Akimel O’odam people. With the music scene rising again after it was nearly extinguished by the COVID-19 pandemic, M.I.S. looks forward to performing together more and playing their debut album, “Kill the Man/Save the Indian.”
M.I.S. band members include Corey Ashley (Diné) on vocals/rhythm guitar, Jacob Stepetin (Unangax̂) on lead guitar, Ruben Dawahoya III (Hopi/O’odham/Yaqui) on bass, and Joseph Manuel Jr. (Hopi/Akimel O’odham) on drums.
M.I.S. played their second show earlier this month at the Navajo Nation Metal Fest in Gallup, N.M. You can listen to M.I.S. on all major streaming platforms or find more information on their website at mercilessndns.bandcamp.com.
Thanks to Anecia for this story!
Released on 10/21/2021
By Cecily Hilleary | April 25, 2018
Editor's note: This story contains images some readers may find disturbing.
In 2018, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, opened to the public, paying tribute to thousands of African Americans who were lynched by white mobs from the close of the 19th century Civil War through the 1960s. While lynching is most commonly associated with blacks in the southern United States, little attention has been paid to the lynching of other minorities, among them, Native Americans.
In his 2011 book, the Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching, Michael J. Pfeifer, history professor at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice, describes lynching as “informal group murder.”
“The definition that I and many scholars have used stipulates that there has to be an illegally-obtained death perpetrated by a mob -- three or more persons -- and that the collected killing must be in service to justice, race or tradition,” he said.
GRIM READ: Remembering Native American Lynching Victims
by David "Katya" Ketchum | LA Progressive
It’s not a secret that I love studying history; I believe it is a vital discipline for understanding and transforming the world. And as shocking and terrifying as human cruelty has been throughout recorded history, it’s also heartening to observe, time and time again, the movements opposing oppression that have always existed. This is also important to remember if you are tempted to excuse the complicity of people in the past by insisting that they were just products of their time. By studying history, we also become more aware of our own responsibilities and possibilities in the present.
One of these important historical moments in US history, when there were multiple and large movements to either oppose or work for social justice, followed the American Civil War.
Optimism that Reconstruction would bring about true and lasting healing and change in a nation ravaged and traumatized by the horrors of slavery and war, were combined with optimism that there could be a change in the government’s policies regarding Native peoples.
President Ulysses S. Grant and the events that took place in his administration are a good example of these trends. The Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871, for example, were aimed at providing federal support to protect the rights of Black Americans and oppose the Ku Klux Klan. Under the direction of Attorney General Amos Ackerman, hundreds of Klansmen were tried, often by Black juries, and imprisoned. Thousands more received fines or warnings, or even fled to escape prosecution. As a result, the KKK as a formal organization was in wreckage by 1872.
At the same time, Grant wanted to find a different approach to US relations with Native peoples. He worked closely with his longtime friend and colleague, Ely S. Parker, and made Parker his Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Parker, whose Native name was Donehogawa, was a member of the Seneca nation and the first Indigenous person to hold the post of Commissioner. Together, they developed policies that included providing federal troops to protect reservation borders from settlers and that ultimately would have provided a pathway to citizenship for Indigenous people.
These plans were vehemently opposed and undermined, and opponents eventually falsely accused Parker of embezzling money. He was exonerated, but Congress stripped power from the office of Commissioner of Indian Affairs, and Parker resigned in 1871.
Plans and relationships fell apart, and Grant ended up waging war against the very people he had thought he would protect, including “the Modoc War in 1873, the Red River War in 1874, and the Great Sioux War in 1876.”
By 1885, the year Grant died, Donehogawa, once Grant’s enthusiastic colleague, described the fate of Indigenous peoples in North America. Resisting the racist idea that blamed Indigenous people for their troubles, he wrote:
“The disabilities, disadvantages and wrongs do not result, however, either primarily, consequently or ultimately from their tribal condition and native inheritances, but solely, wholly and absolutely from the unchristian treatment they have always received from Christian white people … . The tenacity with which the remnants of this people have adhered to their tribal organizations and religious traditions is all that has saved them thus far from inevitable extinguishment.”
Grant’s campaign slogan had been “Let us have peace,” and he seemed sincere in his vision to reform federal Indian policies. So how did it happen that, as Alysa Landry pointed out, “some of the worst massacres and grossest injustices in history [occurred] while Ulysses S. Grant was in office”? This is an important question to ask, if we want to avoid the kind of pitfalls that kept others’ from true healing and change.
In Grant’s case, central to his failures was “the development of millions of acres of federal public lands” and “the private acquisition of land by pioneers, spectators and railroad and mining companies,” made possible by Grant’s approval of the Timber Culture, General Mining, and Desert Lands Acts, which all expanded the land available to homesteaders and settlers – at the expense of Native peoples. In the end, Grant’s hopeful slogan, “Let us have peace,” was no match for the reality of expansionism. In Landry’s words,
“Grant realized that his expansionist goals required the removal of Indians from desirable land. His Indian Peace Policy, designed to reform the Indian Bureau and remove corrupt agents, also called for rigorous agricultural training on reservations and established schools and churches that would transform Indians into Christian citizens.”
November comes to an end but not us, we will continue telling our stories... TLH
Read recollections from former students about the frequent use of corporal punishment in Indian Residential Schools.
You wouldn't tell a black person not to talk about racism. You wouldn't tell a gay person not to talk about gay rights. You would t tell a woman not to talk about feminism.— 💣⚰️The Ungrateful Adoptee ⚰️💣 (@IHateAdoption1) November 15, 2021
But Adoptees had just better not talk about adoption. 🤦🏻♀️ #NAAM #AdopteeVoices
Issue 002 of YOU ARE HOLDING THIS: an abolitionist zine for and by adopted, fostered, and trafficked people has arrived!— Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez (they/them/elle) (@b_lts_) November 21, 2021
Order yours here: https://t.co/zSDbO1UPzq#NAAM #FFY #AdopteeVoices https://t.co/inaDXzd5je
The knowing is the most important part for me.— Benjamin Lundberg Torres Sánchez (they/them/elle) (@b_lts_) November 23, 2021
Folks not separated from family sometimes lament their own harmful families when I talk about the significance of relationships with first family, not acknowledging that they have context to know & define their family relationships https://t.co/Yv1hmOk8pF
Adoptee and adoption Twitter: After a long process of doing DNA tests and family tree research, I am meeting my birth father today for the first time in over 20 years. Any tips or advice? I don't feel too nervous, but I'm not really sure how much I should ask about.— mark (@MapleSystemsRd) November 23, 2021
As hundreds enjoyed Saturday's Thanksgiving parade in Plymouth, Massachusetts, a group of indigenous people protested the holiday celebration.
"Why do we gather here today? Four hundred years later, we join to raise our voices high that we are still here, we are not conquered and we are not defeated," said Brian Weeden, chair of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
"Plymouth is rich with history, but not the truth of the Indians," said Chief Ladybug of the Ponkapoag Praying Indians.
Since 1970, the Wampanoag Tribe has declared Thanksgiving a national day of mourning for the loss of indigenous people's lives, culture and land.
"Our presence here is a stark reminder of the true story of Thanksgiving that differs so much from the fabled stories shared in classrooms, history books and celebrations across this nation," Weeden said. "We will never forget the atrocities that fell upon our people as a result of their violent trespass."
To this day, the Wampanoag Tribe continues to fight with the federal government over land.
"Here we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, and the fact that our tribe is still fighting for what little bit of land we have — we own half of 1% of our ancestral territory — and 400 years later, we don't have much to be thankful for," Weeden said.
"Well, we can't change the past, but we can change the future," Chief Ladybug said. "And the way we change the future is to educate people and start understanding that this is not a day of celebration. This is a day of mourning."
With any genocide, the oppressor seeks to minimize their damage and atrocity... TLH
By Jorge Barrera
June 13, 2021
WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.
a 1937 outbreak of measles at the Kamloops residential school, a nurse
gave student Mary Francois some Aspirin, mustard plasters and brandy
after the girl fell ill on May 3.
On May 10, Mary was taken by car to the nearby Royal Inland Hospital. She had been sick with pneumonia, two bacterial ear infections and inflamed kidneys. That day, the school principal sent a letter to her parents — but they never received it.
The local Indian agent phoned them on the morning of May 13. But when the parents arrived at the hospital that evening, it was too late.
Mary was dead from a blood clot in her brain.
Afterward, Mary's father, the chief of the Adams Lake Band, which sits about 60 kilometres to the east, wrote a letter to the Indian agent.
"In connection with the death of my daughter Mary, while attending Kamloops Indian Residential School," read the letter from Chief Francois, "I would request, as Chief of the Adams Lake Band, that in future, when a child of the school is taken sick and requires hospital attention, that the parents or guardian be notified at once."
The typewritten letter is signed with an "X."
The information about Mary Francois's case is found in a death memorandum from the Indian Affairs department (which does not, in fact, note her age). Mary's record now lies in the holdings of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation alongside 10 other death memorandums from 1935 to 1945, in a folder titled "Kamloops Residential School, Pupil Deaths." The folder is twice stamped with the word "dormant."
|An image of Mary Francois's death record, kept by the Indian Affairs department. (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation)|
These memorandums are a reminder that the threat of death was part of life at the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The institution has become a household word since Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children's remains adjacent to the former school's grounds.
The death of students at Kamloops residential school was no secret among the First Nations whose children were forced to go there. Finding out how they died is a challenge, but the evidence that does exist reveals a record characterized by the indifference of authorities, who saw the children as a means to an end that had little to do with their well-being.
CBC News obtained historical records as well as an out-of-print book that, along with the oral history of survivors, sheds light on the lives and suffering of the students who attended the school.
Survivor testimony and historical records reveal how children died at the institution throughout the years. Many fell to diseases like tuberculosis and measles. Others drowned in the Thompson River, which flowed nearby. Some, fleeing school, tried to hop trains and died. Others died of suicide.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, the repository of residential school records gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, found evidence for 51 fatalities at the institution. There are likely more.
The federal government purged three volumes of funeral records from Kamloops residential school, according to listings of destroyed files held by the National Archives of Canada. The Indian Affairs department also destroyed three volumes of Indian agent reports, along with quarterly "returns" for 1956 to 1961 — student lists that would include deaths.
The memories of survivors fill in some of the gaps left by the reports.
Barbara McNab-Larson, who attended the school from 1948 to 1950, often goes down to a creek near her house in Skeetchestn First Nation. It's a place teeming with life and scents that bring her back to the place before her childhood was shattered.
"That was probably the safest time in my life," said McNab-Larson.
When she was five, a cattle truck came to take her to Kamloops residential school. "The first thing they did was take us down to the cleansing room, where they cut off our hair," she said. "Then, they deloused us. Then, they scrubbed us down with disinfectant like we were diseased animals."
McNab-Larson returned home for the summer, but the next year, she said the school came to get her in an army truck.
WATCH | Barbara McNab-Larson talks about her time at the Kamloops residential school:
Not all were so lucky — to live and remember.
Seven years before McNab entered the doors of Kamloops residential school, a student named Florence Morgan became sick there. Her death memo notes that it was at 6:30 a.m. on June 26, 1941; by 6:50 a.m., she was taken to the Royal Inland Hospital. Florence died on June 28 from the viral infection encephalitis, the memo says.
The Indian agent reported that her body was returned by truck to her parents on the Bonaparte First Nation, which sits 90 kilometres to the east of the school.
The viral infection that killed Florence was a common after-effect of contracting measles. Outbreaks of measles coursed through the school during this era.
One of these outbreaks sickened nine-year-old Leslie Lewis. On Sept. 22, 1935, while Leslie was recovering, he suffered an epileptic attack. The nurse at the school gave him three grams of luminal, an anti-seizure medication. Leslie was put in a car and sent to the hospital at 9 a.m. the next day.
The doctor reported that Leslie seemed fine that morning, but the next day he was dead, his memo says. The doctor reported that the measles infection likely triggered the seizure.
|An image of Leslie Lewis's death memo. (National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation)|
The Indian agent concluded the memo by commenting on the overcrowded conditions at Kamloops residential school, where five dormitories accommodated 285 students.
"During an epidemic it is impossible to properly isolate the patients and contacts," typed the Indian agent. "The need for separate quarters to house sick children is evident."
It wasn't just disease. Some students were also driven to suicide.
"This … young boy hung himself in the bathroom. You know, my brother's age group," said Gerry Oleman, who attended Kamloops residential school from about 1960 to 1968, in a recent interview with CBC. Oleman, who is from St'át'imc First Nation in B.C.'s Interior but now lives in Brandon, Man., said the students who witnessed it still can't shake the moment.
"Still today they remember that. They still get nightmares about it," he said. Oleman also mentioned other distraught students: "the runaways and people jumping trains, getting killed jumping a train, you know, freezing to death."
Suicide also haunts the stories of survivors gathered in the book Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was published by the Secwepemc Cultural Society in 2001.
James Charles, who attended from 1964 to 1978 and is featured in the book, knew of three boys who died of suicide. "One suicide was over on the swings beside the brown building," Charles says in Behind Closed Doors. "No one could figure out how that really took place, because it happened in broad daylight, blue sky out, sun was shining."
Charles said there was another child who died on the bell rope and a third found in the orchard. "I think remembering these suicides played a big role in a lot of my anger that I had bottled up inside," Charles says.
According to the book, some of the children who died attempting to escape on a nearby train came from the Lillooet district, about 170 km west of the school.
One anecdote in the book, told by a survivor who signed their story "Anonymous," said their older sister Nellie died at the school. She was sick for months with hepatitis and yellow jaundice. No doctor came to treat her and no one told her parents of her illness until after her death.
"When my father came to the school after hearing of the sad news, he beat the principal and punched him down the stairs," says the survivor in the book. "As much as I want the memories of my education years to be positive, it just can't be."
Another survivor in the book, Eddy Jules, spoke of abortions and a furnace.
"All of us that were going to school would hear the clang, and we would say, 'Oh, that's so and so's friend, and they gave her an abortion,'" said Jules, noting the strangeness of "fire in September or October or November when it's not cold."
Retired senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said in a recent video statement that he also heard testimony from survivors about this use for a furnace in residential schools.
"Some survivors talked about infants who were born to young girls at the residential schools, infants who had been fathered by priests, were taken away from them and deliberately killed — sometimes thrown into furnaces, we were told," said Sinclair.
Despite all this evidence of death at the school, no record has yet surfaced of a graveyard at the institution — no shred of paper, cross or stone marks conveying who might lie beneath the earth.
Sister Marie Zarowny, chair of the board for the Order of St. Anne's, which provided teachers and nurses to the school, told CBC News a fire destroyed the first 30 years of records from the institution. She said that to her knowledge, no students were ever buried on the school grounds.
She said that if a child died at the Royal Inland Hospital, the body would not be returned to the school. If a student did die at the school, the body would be sent back to their home community for burial.
"We mourned these children at the school. We had a ceremony for them, but they were ... returned to their parents," said Zarowny.
She said that students from Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc who died at the school were buried in the community's cemetery. There are hints of another, now-forgotten graveyard in the records, she said, but couldn't confirm any aspect of this.
"I actually don't know if that reference comes from that school or from another school," she said.
As a result of destroyed records, the true number of students who died at residential school may never be known. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was created to delve into the long history of the schools, concluded that at least 4,100 children died in these institutions.
The Catholic Church has faced widespread calls to release all records related to residentials schools.
The same uncertainty shadows the location of graveyards. Many children were buried in unmarked graves, some of which are now lost to time.
One institution that holds large pieces of this history in its archives is the Catholic Church. Catholic entities ran roughly 75 per cent of residential schools.
The church has faced widespread calls, from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on down, to release all records related to residential schools, to augment the incomplete government record.
Zarowny said her order is sharing any relevant records with Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc that could help aid in the quest to identify the suspected remains on the Kamloops residential school grounds.
She said the Sisters of St. Anne's turned over what they viewed as records related to residential schools to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
But the order has yet to sign off on the transfer of its records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, said Stephanie Scott, executive director of the institute.
"The [Sisters of St. Anne's] remain unwilling to authorize disclosure of [its] records currently in the possession of the government of Canada," said Scott, in a statement to CBC News.
Several Catholic entities never turned over any records to the TRC. According to an internal TRC document obtained by CBC News, 17 Catholic entities failed to hand over any archival material to the commission.
"There are a lot of records in church archives that we never got to go through," Tom McMahon, the former general counsel for the TRC, told CBC.
McMahon said the Catholic entities that did provide files made their own determinations about what was deemed to be a "relevant" document to hand over.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculata, which ran Kamloops residential school, turned over what it deemed to be relevant records to the TRC, according to the internal TRC document.
McMahon said the Catholic entities that did provide files made their own determinations about what was deemed to be a "relevant" document. He said the Catholic entities held onto records connected to church functions and personnel files.
"When you start talking about personnel records, they did not see that as relevant to the children and education of the children," said McMahon.
"When we talk about deaths of children, you want to think about the church records, the baptism records, death records held by the church. The church told us those records pertain to church activities and were not relevant."
McMahon said one of the potentially richest sources of survivor testimony is held by the federal Justice Department in documents relating to roughly 4,000 civil actions filed by survivors against Canada and the various churches that ran residential schools. He said most of those files were never turned over to the TRC.
Survivors and descendants have long spoken about unmarked graves and children who never came home. Their calls made it to the House of Commons in 2007 and then-Indian Affairs minister Jim Prentice, who asked the interim executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to begin working on the issue.
According to a 2008 memo obtained by CBC News, the TRC asked the research branch of Indian Residential Schools Resolutions Canada, a federal agency created to deal with a multitude of civil claims filed by survivors, to conduct an internal records search for cemeteries.
Numerous schools came back with no records of cemeteries, including Kamloops residential school, according to a preliminary report.
John Milloy, one of the country's leading historians and author of A National Crime, perhaps the seminal book on residential schools, said that may be because Indian Affairs never prioritized residential school files.
When government edicts forced the department to destroy records through recycling — for example, as a result of a paper shortage during the Second World War — such files were seen as expendable.
"An awful lot of information which one could have had, to describe the nature of the system, the treatment of the children… a lot of that information was simply lost," said Milloy, who was involved with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Milloy said the Indian Affairs department, which is now known as Indigenous and Northern Affairs, is really a large real estate company, holding in trust reserve lands across the country. It also determines who has the right to live on this property, holding registries with status records and band membership lists.
"So those are the records which are most critical to the department," said Milloy.
He also said that the Canadian public has not properly understood the rationale for the evolution of a residential school system under the country's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald. The schools were a means of nation-building and achieving state-security ends, he said.
"It becomes pretty obvious that, as far as Macdonald and other senior members of the Indian Affairs department [were concerned]… one of the purposes of the schools was to hold the children hostage against the good behaviour of their parents," said Milloy.
He said the officials used children as bargaining chips to counter any attempts by Indigenous nations from raising arms against the still-fledgling state.
|John Milloy, one of the country's leading historians and author of A National Crime, considered one of the seminal books on residential schools. (CBC News)|
Milloy provided CBC News with a pre-print academic paper he wrote that details the strategy. The draft title is "Sir John A.'s Hostages." It states that government and North-West Mounted Police officials were increasingly concerned about a breakout in hostilities between the state and armed Indigenous nations such as the Blackfoot in the Prairies, just as Canada was building a railway to deliver goods and people — as well as establish control over territory.
The use of the schools to neutralize Indigenous resistance was put bluntly by school inspector J. A. Mcrea in a 1886 letter to the Indian commissioner: "It is unlikely that any Tribe or tribes would give trouble of a serious nature to the Government whose members had children completely under Government control."
At the time, Canada wanted to avoid a repeat of the wars in the U.S. and feared any new conflicts would eclipse the violence from the rebellion led by Louis Riel in 1885, Milloy's research showed.
A 1879 report by Nicolas Flood Davin, which recommended the creation of residential schools, followed a fact-finding mission to explore how the Americans used similar institutions, the paper said.
"Davin would have discovered this covert purpose for residential schools in his conversations with Carl Schurtz, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and Ezra Hayt, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs," said the paper. "Certainly, for the Department, the resolution of the 'Indian problem,' characterized so often as carrying the white man's burden of Christian duty was, in fact, countering the perceived threat to state security and social purity."
Milloy said that "this is one of the reasons why the Kamloops school is developed in the 1890s, because the situation in the area is tenuous for the government … The schools are also very much part of the colonial process … for the sake of the development of Canada."
The schools used fear and violence — and fear of violence — to bend generations of children under the cross and flag. Much remains hidden from the record about the fate of thousands of children who attended these institutions, but this history is carried by those who came home.
"'You better behave. Don't get out of line, because there's a graveyard and there's also the river.' Those were warnings that were given to us as little, tiny children — five, six years old," said Barbara McNab-Larson of her time at the Kamloops school.
"I don't think you really grasp it at the time, but when your friends disappear and they don't come back, even as a child, you know something's wrong."
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and those who are triggered by the latest reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
The Justice Department is protecting the names of many perpetrators of abuse of Indigenous children.— Charlie Angus NDP (@CharlieAngusNDP) July 8, 2021
We need a special independent prosecutor who can force the government and church to turn over the documents.
There can be no reconciliation without justice.@MumilaaqQaqqaq pic.twitter.com/5TL6OxKM5O
This is a map of every residential "school" site in Canada.— Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (@MumilaaqQaqqaq) June 24, 2021
Every dot is a crime scene.
Only a few have been investigated so far.
Canada, do not get used to these numbers.
Do not let them become statistics.
Put yourselves in the shoes of these children in the ground. pic.twitter.com/5XJS1w1ka2