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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Canada pledges millions to search for residential school graves

By Al Jazeera Staff | 10 Aug 2021 

Warning: The story below contains details of residential schools that may be upsetting. Canada’s Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Canada has promised tens of millions of dollars to help Indigenous communities in their search for unmarked graves linked to the government’s decades-long residential school system, which a commission of inquiry said in 2015 amounted to “cultural genocide”.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered since late May on the grounds of residential schools across Canada.

Between the late 1800s and 1990s, more than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Metis children were forced to attend the institutions, which aimed to forcibly assimilate them and destroy their cultures. Thousands of children are believed to have died there.

In a news conference in August, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the government would provide an additional $66.2m ($83 million Canadian dollars) to help communities search for unmarked graves.

“As a country, we know the truth. Once you know the truth, you cannot unknow it. First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities have lived with the trauma caused by residential schools for generations,” Bennett said. “So today, we are announcing an additional $83 million in funding … to support more Indigenous communities in this extremely difficult and necessary work.”

The announcement comes as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is widely expected to trigger a snap election in the coming months amid countrywide calls for his government to do more to address the intergenerational trauma caused by residential schools.

Since hundreds of graves were first discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in the western province of British Columbia in late May, Indigenous community leaders and residential school survivors and their families have been plunged into renewed trauma.

They have demanded Ottawa support Indigenous-led efforts to find more unmarked graves and pressure the Catholic Church – which ran most of the institutions – to release its records, apologise and pay reparations.


A child holds a flag that reads 'Every Child Matters' during a march in British Columbia after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada [File: Kevin Light/Reuters]
A child holds a flag that reads 'Every Child Matters' during a march in British Columbia after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of Indigenous children at residential schools across Canada [File: Kevin Light/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wisconsin had at least 10 Institutions for children



wisconsin historical society photo: Tomah Indian Industrial School

Wisconsin had at least 10 Native American boarding schools. Here's what to know about them.

Oneida Indian School

This boarding school was established in 1893 on the Oneida reservation and was run by the federal government.

In the book "Oneida Lives: Long-lost voices of the Wisconsin Oneidas," John Skenandore recalls how he lost one of his hands in an accident while working in the school's laundry room. He said he was injured when he tried to put a sheet through a wringer.

Children at the boarding schools were often detailed to work in the laundry. In the book, Skenandore wonders why he never received some kind of compensation for his injury.

"If I was only playing when this happened, I would not expect a thing, but I was put to work among the machinery at the age of twelve," he is quoted as saying.


AGENT REPORTS (pdf)(1889) 400+ pages

Squamish Nation to Investigate St. Paul’s Indian Residential School for Unmarked Graves

Squamish announcement 2
Byron Joseph, Elder, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), who led an opening prayer, called on the crowd gathered wearing orange to come together and help one another through this difficult time, as Squamish Nation begins an investigation of the former St. Paul's Indian Residential School site.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) has announced it has launched an investigation into the former St. Paul’s Indian Residential School site to find answers about the children who attended the institution but never made it home.

On Tuesday (Aug 10) standing outside the site of the former institution, which once stood on the 500 block of West Keith Road in North Vancouver, Khelsilem (Dustin Rivers), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw spokesperson, said the Nation had embarked on an Indigenous-led initiative, on behalf of its people and in partnership with its relatives, the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, to investigate the site for burial grounds and unmarked graves.

“We will begin that work to investigate and gather all information to honour and find those children who might not have gone home that had attended St. Paul’s Indian Residential School,” he said, adding that the work would be done with the support of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

Khelsilem said the investigation was just in the beginning stages and the process was still taking shape but would involve an inquiry into the site and a field investigation.

The phases of the investigation will include an interview process with survivors to help narrow down or expand investigation search areas, gathering all records related to the school throughout its history, and remote sensing searches, which may include ground-penetrating radar studies.

The announcement comes after the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation shared the discovery of the remains of an estimated 215 children in unmarked graves at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at the end of May. Since then, further Nations have announced their own such findings.

As the St. Paul’s site is now home to St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary, Khelsilem said it had unique considerations in comparison to other sites being investigated, which had to be considered during the investigation, including the extensive development that has occurred at the site.

There were 18 residential schools in B.C. St. Paul’s, located next to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh community of Eslhá7an, was the only institution in the Metro Vancouver area.

It was opened in 1899 by the federal government’s Department of Indian Affairs and was managed and operated by the Roman Catholic Religious Teaching Order, the Sisters of Child Jesus.

Over 2,000 Indigenous children, representing six generations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ Nations, and other Indigenous communities, were institutionalized there from grades one through eight until it closed in 1959.

Children in the school were segregated by age group and gender, often not permitted to visit other family members, stripped of their culture, and punished for speaking their native languages or taking part in their cultural traditions.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw says oral histories told by St. Paul’s survivors include stories about children who disappeared.

“According to public records, 12 unidentified students died while attending St. Paul’s between 1904 and 1913,” the Nation said in a release, adding that the goal with the investigation is to find the location of each of these children and “bring them home to rest.”

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw held a private gathering on Monday (Aug. 9) to tell members that the work was beginning at the site.

“This work is really sacred and really important to our people and, first and foremost, this work is about protecting and helping our survivors,” Khelsilem said. “They’re first in our minds, as we begin this work.”

James Borkowski, the archbishop’s delegate for operations for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, who spoke on behalf of Archbishop Michael Miller, said the work to uncover the truth had already begun over the past two months, and “continues as an urgent priority.”

Earlier this summer, the archbishop shared an apology and a firm commitment on behalf of the local Catholic Church, to provide immediate supports and co-operation in ensuring that all documents related to residential schools be made available and accessible.

“We have much to learn and act on, as we hear from the Nations, and community members in this journey of truth and reconciliation related to the church’s historic and damaging role with residential schools,” Borkowski said.

“Our hope as Catholics is that our Creator will give us the courage and strength to follow the truth wherever it takes us.”

On June 28, the B.C. government allocated $12 million to support First Nations throughout the province with investigative work at former residential school sites, as well as cultural and wellness supports.

Each caretaker community can receive up to $475,000 for each site.

The province has also appointed First Nations liaisons to support communities through the work.

On Aug 10, the federal government also announced a further $321 million in additional support for Indigenous-led initiatives.

Chief Jen Thomas, səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ, whose father is a survivor of St. Paul’s, said she was “grateful for the work that’s going to be done” saying it was the “start of our healing journey for our survivors.”

Chief Wayne Sparrow (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm) added on behalf of his community that “we’re going to work with each and every one of you to get to the truth.”

He acknowledged all Nations involved, both the federal and provincial governments and the Catholic Archdiocese for stepping up to do the work.

“The only way that we’re going to heal is doing it together,” Sparrow said.

Elder Byron Joseph of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, who led an opening prayer, called on the crowd gathered wearing orange to come together and help one another through this difficult time.

“This is a time where our people come forward,” he said. “The ones that have been forgotten. Those are the ones we have to honour. Those are the ones these prayers are for.

“Keep a strong mind and strong heart as we go through this together.”

**By Elisia Seeber


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Ceremony, Investigation and Negotiations (Edmonton, Canada)


There have been several news stories in the past few days that I’m including below. I hope it’s useful to have these collected in one place:

Lorelei Mullings holds her three week-old grandson Micah Mindus-Morin on the grounds of the former Charles Camsell Indian Hospital, in Edmonton, Monday Aug. 9, 2021. Mullins is a co-organizer of a protest that has been on site nearing 50 straight days, to bring awareness to the discovery of over 5,000 unmarked graves at Canada’s former residential school sites. PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM /Postmedia

“Even if graves are found, those looking for answers may not get them. Records are scarce and DNA testing is possible but expensive, Bruneau says.

He also hopes former patients or a witnesses who may have details that could help with the search will come forward, though he knows speaking about the past can be painful.

“It seems like a good thing that they’re finding all these graves, but its also opening up old wounds.”

Elder Fernie Marty from the Papaschase First Nation, monitors the covering of dig sites on the grounds of the former Charles Camsell Hospital, in Edmonton Friday Aug. 6, 2021. Eleven sites were excavated on the grounds of the former hospital Thursday Aug. 5 after ground penetrating radar identified anomalies. No human remains or artifacts were found in the 11 sites, but Papaschase First Nation oral history says there are unmarked graves on the north east section of the property, which have not yet been searched. The hospital had served as a tuberculosis treatment centre for Indigenous peoples. Photo by David Bloom PHOTO BY DAVID BLOOM DAVID BLOOM /David Bloom/Postmedia
  • Updated article on the Indian Hospitals Class Action suit by Koskie Minsky and the Federal Government’s attempts to negotiate a settlement out of court [a correction: this suit is not new, as is stated in the article. It was launched several years ago]

“I think that people need to know that this happened in our hospitals, it happened recently and we need to acknowledge it,” [Chief Complainant Ann] Hardy told CTV News. 

“I know that sometimes Canadians think they’re just hearing too much of it, and ‘Why can’t we just get over it?’ and I think we’re not going to be able to, in my case, until we fully expose that this happened.” 


Holly Moore and the APTN Investigates team recently looked into the history and legacy of Indian Hospitals and tuberculosis in Canada. Out of their work, they produced a 25-minute video that provides context and dips into experiences at various hospitals, including the Camsell. In addition to interviews with several authors and researchers (such as Dr. Maureen Lux and Dr. Ian Mosby), they speak with Dorothy Wanahadie and Marilyn Buffalo about their experiences – or their family members’ experiences – as patients and staff at the Camsell.

I think what Stephen Lewis, Director of AIDS-Free World said, resonates. There’s a sense of “angry bewilderment” at the treatment of Indigenous people during the era of the Sanatoriums, but also at the lack of information today.

Hopefully all of our work to illuminate this past, and get answers, will be helpful.

To watch the video, please click here.

Lummi Nation reimagines foster care for Indigenous families

To reconnect parents and children, the tribe opened a supportive family housing center.

Houses along a winding road.
Sche’lang’en Village, located on the Lummi Reservation in Washington. (Sche’lang’en Village)

Several years ago, the Lummi Tribal Council told Diana Phair, the executive director of the tribe’s Housing Authority: “We have 200-some children in foster care. We need to bring our children home.” 


Monday, August 23, 2021

A Crime: Police handling 4 residential school investigations across Canada

Updated August 22, 2021 

A tally from police across the country shows there are four ongoing criminal investigations and one decade-long probe into complaints involving residential schools.  The Canadian Press contacted RCMP and other policing agencies across the country over the last two weeks.  The agencies said there are four ongoing investigations in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon as well as a probe that began in 2011 into the Fort Alexander Residential School in Manitoba. 

News: ICWA, This Land podcast (and more)

 (click headlines) important...Indian Law News Coverage (8/23/2021)

This Land podcast, series 2:

In This Episode

ALM – as referred to in court documents – is a Navajo and Cherokee toddler. When he was a baby, a white couple from the suburbs of Dallas wanted to adopt him, but a federal law said they couldn’t. So they sued. Today, the lawsuit doesn’t just impact the future of one child, or even the future of one law. It threatens the entire legal structure defending Native American rights.   In season 2 of This Land, host Rebecca Nagle investigates how the far right is using Native children to quietly dismantle American Indian tribes. PREMIER August 23rd.


Show Notes

  • Resources For Survivors ( link)
  • Resources For Journalists & Investigators ( link)
  • Have a tip? Share it with our reporting team (SecureDrop)
  • Jennifer Brackeen’s Personal Blog (Wayback Machine)
  • An Untold Number Of Indigenous Children Disappeared At U.S. Boarding Schools. Tribal Nations Are Raising The Stakes In Search Of Answers. (The Intercept)
  • My Relatives Went To A Catholic School For Native Children. It Was A Place Of Horrors (The Guardian)
  • Indigenous Children Finally Headed Home (Indian Country Today)
  • Indian Boarding School Investigation Faces Hurdles In Missing Records, Legal Questions (NBC News)

U.S. Boarding Schools To Be Investigated (Indian Country Today)


read more👇

The Guardian: “Why is the US right suddenly interested in Native American adoption law?”

A 1978 law tried to remedy adoption practices created to forcibly assimilate Native children. Now conservative lawyers are arguing that the law constitutes ‘reverse racism’

Members of the Mosakahiken Cree Nation hug in front of a makeshift memorial at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honor the 215 children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility, in British Columbia.
Members of the Mosakahiken Cree Nation hug in front of a makeshift memorial at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honor the 215 children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility, in British Columbia. Photograph: Cole Burston/AFP/Getty Images
There’s a reason why “forcibly transferring children” from one group to another is an international legal definition of genocide. Taking children has been one strategy for terrorizing Native families for centuries, from the mass removal of Native children from their communities into boarding schools to their widespread adoption and fostering out to mostly white families. It’s what led to the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978, touchstone legislation that aimed to reverse more than a century of state-sponsored family separation.


  • Indigenous leaders want ‘meaningful action’ from next gov’t. Here are the promises so far

    It’s about time Indigenous peoples in Canada get “mutual respect” and “meaningful actions” from their government, says a former Manitoba grand chief.

    In an interview with Global News on Friday, Sheila North, former Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak grand chief, said party leaders must present solid policies during this federal election to get that respect.

    “That is a big issue that needs to be addressed by all parties, and follow it up with meaningful actions that will resonate right into the heart of Indigenous people, especially on remote communities; if we see a difference in remote communities, then we’ll know we’re actually making progress in achieving reconciliation in this country,” she said. Visit

from NICK's Blog

This is really the bare minimum of information, so I really encourage you to do your own research and learn more about the atrocities that the American and Canadian governments committed against the indigenous peoples of this land.

  • The ‘Indian Residential School System’ in Canada was founded as an attempt to continue assimilating indigenous peoples into the western culture – this included but was not exclusive to religious indoctrination into Christianity, learning English, and domestic and agricultural work exclusive to Anglo-Saxon traditions. 
  • The system came into use after the passing of the ‘Indian Act’ in 1876 and the last federally-funded school shut down in 1997. 
    • Many Indigenous groups were excluded as part of the Indian Act such as the Metis, the Inuit, and “non-status Indians” (e.g indigenous children with parents from different tribes or other indigenous individuals from tribes not recognized by the federal government at the time). Therefore many Indigenous populations were without rights or the Indian Act, as the Indian Act was meant to replace Canada’s “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” for Indigenous groups acknowledged by the federal government. 
  • The schools were extremely harmful to indigenous children – removing them from their homes and families often without consent, depriving them of their ancestral languages, and exposing them to numerous forms of abuse including (but certainly not limited to) experimentation, malnutrition, neglect, arduous labor, and sexual abuse.
  • Survivors of residential schools often showed signs of the trauma they endured in post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide.
  • In 2021 alone, thousands of unmarked graves have been found at the locations of former residential schools.
  • Residential schools were not limited to just Canada!
  • Thousands of Native American “boarding schools” existed in the United States between the 1700s and the 1900s with similar conditions.

We Need To Think in Terms of Healing All People

By Marsha Small (Northern Cheyenne)

As the public now decries the unmarked graves of Indigenous children of residential and boarding schools, many Native families are thinking, “We know. Finally, they’re paying attention!” After all the work that many Native communities and intellectuals/activists have been doing, people are noticing and condemning, unlike any time before, the terror and nightmare that Native families have been living with for generations. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, a boarding school descendant, recently announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative, which offers hope to affected communities, but also raises questions about the methods and approaches of this inquiry. Stories are surging on the outcry and accusations about boarding schools, sometimes without listening to the Native survivors, families, and communities that have already been speaking out and seeking truth, healing, and reconciliation in their own ways. For many that have experienced the horrors of boarding school first-hand, and to their children, these conversations trigger trauma. 

Farina King and Marsha Small are two Native American scholars and descendants of boarding school survivors who are dedicated to serving their peoples by amplifying the voices of those who attended Indian boarding schools. 

In her work, King addresses how Diné identity has changed among boarding school students through the twentieth century, and she addresses the physical affronts, illness, abuse, and punishment, and as well as survivor skills and creativity that students used to overcome their challenges at boarding schools. 

Marsha Small, or O tata’veenova’e (Northern Cheyenne/Tsististah), has used geo-referencing systems such as ground penetrating radar (GPR) and geospatial information systems (GIS) to locate unknown and unmarked burial sites of the Chemawa Indian School Cemetery. 

Listen to Farina King and Sarah Newcomb talk with Marsha Small for the Native Circles podcast.

We are part of a growing collaboration who address the intergenerational impacts of what historian David Wallace Adams defined as “education for extinction,” or schooling set to eradicate Indigenous sovereignty and being in the empire of the United States. We call for the Indigenizing of truth seeking and telling on the histories of boarding schools. Healing derives from self-determination and community-based approaches that center on living Indigenous communities and boarding school survivors and their families. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) has spearheaded this movement for truth and healing in the United States ( 

As early as 1928, the Meriam Report uncovered many of the harms of Indian boarding schools, such that the federal government increasingly redirected their attention towards public schools for Native children. However, some boarding schools have remained open into the twenty-first century, though they have changed many of their most nefarious policies, many even embracing the teaching of Native American cultures and languages. Yet, struggles over educational sovereignty ensues as Native youth fight to protect their right to life and water at home. 

The One Mind Youth Movement are Cheyenne River Sioux young leaders who are fighting to sustain Indigenous “outreach, community, and education” ( Some Indigenous youth are fighting to wear ancestral regalia at their graduations such as Christian Titman of the Pit River Tribe who sued his school district in California for not allowing him to wear an eagle feather in his graduation cap in 2015.

The Navajo Nation is an example of one tribal nation that is attempting to reaffirm their authority over the education in public schools on their reservation. 

Boarding school histories trigger guilt, both in those involved, as well as those looking on. Many now ask, what more could we have done to save the lives of these children? 

King once asked her Diné father why he never taught her Diné bizaad, Navajo language, and he told her, “You never asked.” But she knows other Diné parents who no longer talk to their children in Navajo, and they openly admit that they thought that their language would hurt their prospects in the future. The schools drilled in them that Indigenous languages and cultures were impediments and vestiges of a losing and dying people. They believed that the trajectory of their children excluded Indigenous values, including sovereignty and peoplehood for which many of their ancestors sacrificed their lives. A relentless ailment that burdens the survivors of boarding schools and their posterity is the paradox that we will either forever belong to a race of victims, or we can reject our Indigeneity and side with “the winning team.” History is often framed as a game of winners and losers, but there are never winners in such histories of violence and rupture.

Indian boarding school truth-seekers must seek healing and recognize our Indigenous ancestors made the most of a difficult situation. They survived with the hope that their descendants would someday thrive. Uncovering buried truths will reopen the wounds that never fully healed, and the healing will be painful. This is not a process that can be rushed, or ripped apart, and it must involve those who are affected by the legacies of Indian boarding schools. Each grave uncovered represents a missing child, a stolen ancestor, and a family that never came to be.  -Farina King, Ph.D.





Thursday, August 19, 2021

Stewart Indian School’s 200 unmarked graves

In Carson City, Nevada more than 170 marked graves have been found at an old Indian school cemetery. 

Illnesses, accidents and epidemics took their toll on native students

PHOTO/FRANK X. MULLEN: The cemetery now known as the “Old Stewart Indian Cemetery” or the “Dat-So-La-Lee Cemetery,” after the master Washoe basket weaver who is buried there. Most of the stones are simple marble tablets but there are also a few wooden, concrete and sandstone markers, as well as numerous unmarked graves. In the 1940s, a new cemetery was established less than a mile to the west of the old cemetery. Both are on Washoe tribal property. Photos used in this story were taken from outside the fence line.

Starting in the late 1800s, a system of more than 350 Indian boarding schools was tasked with stripping indigenous Americans of their language and culture, while isolating them from their families and tribes, in an effort to “assimilate” the students into white society.

At Stewart Indian School, which opened in 1890, the very existence and memory of about 200 native people, presumably children, were erased as well.

At the old school cemetery adjacent to the 240-acre campus, southwest of central Carson City, there are more than 170 marked graves. Those range in time from 1880, a year before the school existed, to the early 2000s. The marked gravesites include many with weathered, nearly-illegible headstones as well as easily-read marble markers and well-tended family plots. The wind-swept site on tribal land, protected by a fence and ringed with gnarled sagebrush, also encompasses an estimated 200 unmarked plots, whose occupants and dates of interment are a mystery.

The institution is among hundreds of Indian boarding schools that will be examined by the federal government in an effort to document their histories, including identifying the students who attended them and those who never went home. That review, announced in June by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, came after nearly 1,000 unmarked graves were found at former Indian boarding schools in Canada.

Stacey Montooth, the executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission, last month inspected the Stewart cemetery and reported her findings to the Interior Department, which decided to add the institution to its review.

“I hope we find the names of every student who attended the Stewart Indian School and find those dates (of attendance) and their tribal affiliations. I’m hopeful that we can share that information with their families, their descendants. Then that will give new insights for their loved ones and allow them to have a new appreciation for the experience of their ancestors or their elders.”

– Stacey Montooth, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission.
PHOTO/STEWART INDIAN SCHOOL MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER: Students in front of the old main school building in the early 1900s.

Inherited trauma

Montooth said the review is about more than cataloging names and gathering data. Learning about students’ experiences at the school, she said, could help tribal people understand “some of the dynamics in their families, and with reflection, quite possibly make those families stronger and more grounded in their culture, which would lead to stronger communities.”

The history of the Stewart Indian School, the topic of a sidebar to this story, is a mixture of proud achievement and shameful treatment; school spirit, loneliness and resilience. What was called “assimilation” from the early 1800s to the 1930s is today seen as an attempt at cultural genocide, even ethnic cleansing. The boarding schools’ initial goal to “kill the Indian, save the man” failed, but the human price of those policies reverberates down through generations of tribal people.

The costs yet to be tallied include information about those who rest in the unmarked burials among the headstones in the old school cemetery, located on land returned to the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada. Permission from the tribe is required for entry.

“We must shed light on what happened at federal boarding schools. As we move forward in this work, we will engage in tribal consultation on how best to use this information, protect burial sites, and respect families and communities.”

— Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland.

Some records lost

Montooth said the Nevada Indian Commission is gathering what records are available, but has not yet received specific direction from the Department of Interior about how to proceed. The commission will work with tribal leaders and school alumni during the course of the review, she said.

There is no complete roster of Stewart students, but according to an estimate by the Nevada State Museum, about 30,000 children were enrolled there during the 90-year life of the school. Some pupils attended for many years; others for just a few months. When the institution closed in 1980, some school documents and records were lost and others were sent to federal repositories, said Bobbi Rahder, director of the Stewart Indian School Museum and Cultural Center.

PHOTO/FRANK X. MULLEN: Student stonemasons in the 1920s built the colorful stone buildings on the campus. The old Post Office is now a museum gift shop.

Montooth said that when federal authorities suddenly closed the school, “there was absolutely no transition plan. It was a shock to staff, students, faculty and the state of Nevada.” In addition to the documents stored at federal facilities, she said, some documents and artifacts formerly displayed in the school are now under the control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and kept in a warehouse in Carson City.

“We’re hopeful that eventually those items will be returned to the Nevada Indian Commission, especially in light of the Secretary of the Interior’s initiative that aims to find out the names, dates and tribal affiliations of all people who attended boarding school,” she said. “…It would not only help in the healing, but allow (tribal people) a place to come and do research to find out about their families. It also would be very helpful to us in filling in the holes we have in the records.”

Volunteers cleaned up site

Researchers have located some of the documents related to the school housed at the San Bruno National Archives in California. In 2007, the Nevada Department of Transportation initiated the Old Stewart Indian Cemetery Clean-up Project, an effort that involved the Washoe Tribe, the Nevada Indian Commission, the Virginia City Cemetery Foundation and the Stewart Indian Colony Youth Group. The young volunteers cleaned up the site, repaired broken grave markers, and documented more than 250 gravesites. Researchers pored through federal records, copies of the school newspaper, obituaries, death certificates and other sources to find out more about the people who rest there.

Some of the results of that research are listed on the Find a Grave website, where 176 Stewart cemetery graves are catalogued. The people interred beneath those markers were students who died while enrolled at the school, staff members, alumni, and their relatives.  About half of those buried in the 176 plots listed on Find a Grave were adults, the rest were children, including some infants.

Students who died at the school also are buried in other cemeteries around Northern Nevada.

Epidemics and outbreaks

Those researching the names on the Old Stewart Cemetery markers found evidence documenting students who died of communicable diseases, which spread easily in the close conditions at the institution.

Other deaths are connected to epidemics. In 1896, for example, four children between the ages of 7 and 13 were interred there. Researchers attributed some of those deaths to the “Russian flu.”  In 1919, four children between the ages of 12 and 15 were buried in the cemetery. Newspapers at the time reported that a total of five children and three staff members died in the third wave of the Spanish flu pandemic.

A similar spike in burials occurred in 1906, when five children ranging in age from 7 to 10, and a 21-year-old male student were interred, but researchers found no connection to a disease outbreak at the school that year.

The public summary of the clean-up project notes the existence of unmarked graves in the cemetery, but no number is noted. More detailed information, including a digitized map of gravesites, is in the custody of the Washoe Tribe. The tribe created an on-line virtual “cemetery,” where relatives can share photographs, stories and information about their loved ones.  

Scientific racism

When the school opened in a single wooden building 1890, it had no medical facilities. During the first half century of its history, tuberculosis and trachoma (an eye infection than can result in blindness) were endemic at the school. Epidemics swept through the student body and outbreaks of illnesses, including measles, mumps and related infections, were common.

Bonnie Thompson wrote her doctoral thesis about the school and the evolution of its policies on student health in 2013, while a student at Arizona State University. Thompson wrote that the school opened during an era of scientific racism, which continued through 1905.

“Medical officials and the Indian Office largely believed that Indians’ ‘savage’ lifestyle and traditional beliefs predisposed them to chronic diseases… Following this logic, the Indian Office did little to prevent students from contracting these diseases or other illnesses other than isolating contagious students.”

— Bonnie Thompson, doctoral thesis, 2013.

An infirmary was built on campus in 1905 and a full-time nurse joined the school staff. Germ theory eventually took hold, but the consistency of better nutrition, good sanitation and the best-available health practices varied over the years.

“Mumps, scabies, impetigo, measles, smallpox, and influenza all reached epidemic proportions at Stewart between 1890 and 1940,” Thompson wrote. “…The sheer magnitude of these epidemics struck fear into the children and their parents and reinforced the idea that boarding schools were death traps.”

Sent home to die

A sanatorium for students infected with tuberculosis was built in 1916, but it was always inadequate for the demand. Often, critically ill children were sent home.

“To avoid deaths at the school, the sanatorium also sent home students with advanced tuberculosis as soon as possible,” Thompson wrote. “The wishes of parents and children certainly played a role in the students’ return to their families. Parents wanted to say goodbye to their children before they died. But by sending the children home, the school pushed its responsibility for sickness and the cost of further care onto other Indian agencies and families themselves.”

Superintendents only reported deaths that occurred on campus, several researchers noted.

The ‘Indian New Deal’

In 1928, the federal Meriam Report laid bare the problems at Indian boarding schools, including the dismal states of nutrition and health care. The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, dubbed the “Indian New Deal,” resulted in tribes using their new political power to pressure the federal Indian Office to reform its policies.

Stewart stepped up its education and prevention programs, but budget constraints and changes in leadership got in the way of implementing best practices. “Pupils at Stewart often complained about the quality and quantity of food, physical exhaustion from their work regimen, and crowded dormitories where they often slept two to a bed,” Thompson wrote.

Finding more records may provide more insight into how children lived – and died – at Stewart Indian School, but some gaps in the narrative may never be filled.


Numbers, not names

Nicholas Jackson, a graduate student in education at the University of Nevada, Reno, wrote his 1969 master’s thesis about the history of Stewart. He noted that quantifying the number of children who died of disease at Stewart, or at any federal boarding school, can be challenging.

“On an institutional level, superintendents reported deaths of nameless students in their annual reports to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,” Jackson wrote. “Even then, no complete record exists and the rates of morbidity and mortality have to be pieced together from reports, letters, death certificates, student records, and grave stones.” 

That’s part of what the federal review is trying to accomplish. The results may not be comprehensive, but any further information will shed more light on the experiences of the children who attended the school for generations.

Dedicated to the task

Filling in those gaps in the school’s history “looks like the direction the Secretary of the Interior wants us to take and that’s what we want to do,” Montooth said. Even if it’s possible to identify every student who was enrolled, many of their fates may remain unknown.

“If they were here and didn’t come back, you may not know why they didn’t come back,” she said. “Did they run away, make it home, and were able to hide (from the truant officer)? Did they not come back because they perished? It’s such a complex situation. Most of the alumni and staff records we have specific to the school indicate that there wasn’t a big focus on record-keeping here. It followed that if the operation was violent, and would reflect poorly on the federal government, then the folks who had the ability to keep those records wouldn’t have made that a priority.”

Still, Montooth said, every effort will be made to learn as much as possible. “We want to be transparent and to be able to tell relatives that, yes, this is when your relatives went to this school and this is what we now know about them.” SOURCE


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

NEWS: Million Pledged, Unmarked Graves, Secretariat Investigation


Wauzhushk Onigum receives 'long overdue' $3M to search for unmarked burials at former residential schools - read here

(August 14, 2021) The chief of Wauzhushk Onigum says elders in the northwestern Ontario First Nation have been telling stories for decades about unmarked graves and the children who never came home from St. Mary's Indian Residential School.

"It's time to listen to their stories and educate non-Indigenous Canada, educate the world on what happened to our people," Chief Chris Skead told CBC News.

He hopes the $2.9 million in funding announced Thursday by the federal and provincial governments will help the First Nation find "the entire truth."


Former TRC director to head 'secretariat' investigation

(August 13, 2021)
Kimberly R. Murray
Kimberly R. Murray

The former executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has been hired to help create a “survivors’ secretariat” to oversee a search for graves at the former Mohawk Institute residential school.  Kimberly R. Murray, a Mohawk of Kanehsatake, will act as executive oversight lead. In addition to her work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Murray was the first assistant deputy Attorney General of the Indigenous Justice Division at the Ontario of the Attorney General.

Six Nations has put $1 million into the creation of the survivor secretariat.

The Mohawk Institute operated for 142 years from 1828 to 1970. More than 15,000 children, most of them from Six Nations, were forced to attend.



Indigenous leaders, community bless site for national TRC centre |Winnipeg Free Press

Indigenous art show explores role of kinship in culture while works convey pain, hope, beauty

A description of this painting reads: 'Unmarked depicts the loss of culture, language and of course children through the historical implementation of the Residential School system in Canada. It was created as a reflection of my own feelings of sadness resulting from this loss and has become a timely harbinger of what is currently occurring with the increased discovery of children's Unmarked graves on the grounds of Canadian Residential Schools.' (D. Ahsén:nase Douglas) READ MORE


There’s a new federal holiday in Canada in September. What does it mean for you?

For the first time, Sept. 30 will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
For the first time, Sept. 30 will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Files / Global News
For the first time, Sept. 30 will mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

In June, Ottawa declared it a federal statutory holiday that is meant to give public servants an opportunity to recognize the legacy of residential schools.

We are not supposed to know

Editor Note: I have said this before in a non-fiction book I wrote in 2018. We are not supposed to know or care about Native People. It's obvious we have a century of bad history to rewrite and write right...

Why Do Native People Disappear From Textbooks After the 1890s?

August 16, 2021


The current manufactured controversy over critical race theory in American schools that has been roiling parts of the nation this summer has exposed two truths: Most K-12 teachers do not teach CRT, but they absolutely should. And while anti-education conservatives claim that CRT teaches things like “race essentialism” and that all white people are racist, the academic framework does nothing of the sort.

What it does is demand that we compare our ideals about law, justice, and the way government works with the lived experience of racial and ethnic minorities within those systems.

CRT, then, examines how America actually is in comparison with how we think it ought to be. When applied to history, critical race theory demands that we examine the American reality instead of the American mythology that has often masqueraded as history in classrooms.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland’s recent visit to the former site of the government-run Carlisle Indian School highlights some of that destructive American mythology. Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo of New Mexico, is the first Native Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Last month, Haaland visited the graveyard on the U.S. Army’s Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania during a ceremony to repatriate the disinterred remains of nine Rosebud Sioux children who died over a century ago at the school.

Historically, the United States committed itself to a policy of cultural genocide in the early part of the 19th century, and it created an education program for which Native children were removed from their parents—sometimes violently. The schools then compelled the children to give up their culture in favor of American norms, including by forcibly cutting students’ hair, replacing their names, prohibiting them from speaking their own language, and restricting their visits home. This boarding school period of Indian education continued until the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978, a law aimed at preventing the forced removal of Native children from their families and tribes. Understandably, many Native people remain skeptical of educational systems designed and run by the federal government.

Problems with Native education continue today. Because the land making up a reservation is generally owned by the United States and held in trust for the tribes, there is no tribal property-tax base to fund tribally-run schools. That means Native nations rely upon the Bureau of Indian Education to manage or fund the vast majority of their schools. However, for years, the BIE has ignored accountability and transparency mandates in the Every Student Succeeds Act that require schools to report the educational progress of students.

Further, because of the lack of funding, only a small percentage of Native students have access to important early-learning programs, meaning that Native students are already struggling to “play catch up” when they arrive in kindergarten. This early disadvantage could be ameliorated if Congress were to fund Head Start and similar programs on reservations at the same rate it does elsewhere.

In fact, many students are actually surprised to learn that Native peoples still exist."

In addition to present-day educational disparities, Native American history is neglected in most K-12 classrooms. In fact, many students are actually surprised to learn that Native peoples still exist. It is almost as if Gen. Richard H. Pratt, the founder of the Carlisle School, was successful in his attempt to “Kill the Indian, and save the man.” Many non-Native students assume Native people must have died off since they largely disappear from textbook narratives after the 1890s. (They also make up about 1 percent of the national student population, so it’s possible that many non-Native students might not have been exposed to their Native peers.)

Students do not learn that many Native people don’t have access to running water or electricity. They do not learn that the U.S. Supreme Court has limited how tribes can exercise their governmental power—such as police power—to serve and protect their citizens. They certainly do not learn about the inequalities in the educational system between predominantly white schools and those serving Native students. If they did, then they might question how we treat our Native neighbors.

Where I live on the Navajo Nation—which straddles Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico and is about the size of West Virginia—about a third of the population lives without running water or electricity. In 1936, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration, the program only offered electrification loans to states and counties, not to tribal governments. The result was that while most rural Americans quickly gained electricity in the next decade or so, many living on reservations did not.

Even before the pandemic, my college students told me stories about charging their laptops in their cars overnight and then traveling to the closest town for Wi-Fi to turn in their homework. These same students travel 20 miles to the closest gas station to get ice to keep food cold, which they cook on gas-powered camping stoves. They use outhouses. They drive several miles to windmill-powered water tanks. They drive 30 miles to the closest truck stop about once a week to take a shower. While this is difficult under normal circumstances, it is nearly impossible to overstate the burden that a lack of electricity and running water has created during the ongoing spread of COVID-19 on the reservation.

Like much of America, my neighbors also have urgent, albeit different, complaints about the police. The Navajo Police Department does not employ a single white officer, so racism in law enforcement on the reservation manifests itself in different ways from how it does in the rest of the country. Instead, Navajo people complain about a lack of police because of funding and the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has limited the effect of tribal criminal jurisdiction on non-Native Americans. So, when someone on the Navajo Nation dials 911, there is a high probability that police will be unavailable for help. And, if officers are available, in most cases, they are limited in their ability to arrest and charge non-Native suspects for violations of tribal law.

Policymakers have good reason to protect the mythological narrative of America that their political power is rooted in. If American K-12 teachers used critical race theory to inform their social studies curriculum, students might learn the real truth about the country’s failures to live up to its own ideals.

Wilfred Buck Tells The Story Of Mista Muskwa

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They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
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You are not alone

You are not alone

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Diane Tells His Name

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60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support


Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie


As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.


Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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