|Donald Neconie, 84, Kiowa, testifed on Saturday, July 9, 2022, as part of the U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's Road to Healing tour of the brutality he suffered while attending Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, in the 1940s. Haaland, Laguna Pueblo and the first Indigenous person to sit in a presidential cabinet, kicked off the yearlong tour in Anadarko to hear testimony from survivors and descendants of Indian boarding schools. (Photo by Mary Annette Pember/ICT)|
Road to Healing: Deb Haaland pledges boarding school truths will be uncovered
WARNING: This story has disturbing details about residential and boarding schools. If you are feeling triggered, here is a resource list for trauma responses from the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition in the US. The National Indian Residential School Crisis Hotline in Canada can be reached at 1-866-925-4419.
Mary Annette Pember | ICT
ANADARKO, Oklahoma — A journey like no other began at last Saturday for survivors of U.S. Indian boarding schools.
Young and old, descendants and survivors, crowded into the gymnasium of Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, to share their experiences as the kickoff to U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s Road to Healing tour.
Until now, former boarding school students were largely ignored, forced to survive brutality and separation from family, culture and language, and deal with childhood traumas as best they could.
Finally, the world is listening.
“I still feel that pain,” said Donald Neconie, 84, Kiowa, who attended Riverside school in the 1940s.
Neconie, a former U.S. Marine, described physical and sexual abuse at the hands of school employees. School leaders knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it, he said.
“You couldn’t cry or tell anyone, because if you did, you knew it would be worse,” he said. “I will never forgive this school for what they did to me.”
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