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Support Info: If you are a Survivor and need emotional support, a national crisis line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week: Residential School Survivor Support Line: 1-866-925-4419. Additional Health Support Information: Emotional, cultural, and professional support services are also available to Survivors and their families through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program. Services can be accessed on an individual, family, or group basis.” These & regional support phone numbers are found at https://nctr.ca/contact/survivors/ .

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Thursday, July 21, 2022

We know their spirits are still here

 'Their spirits are still here': Tribe, state to search for remains at North Dakota boarding school

The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the State Historical Society of North Dakota recently agreed to partner in a search for the remains of children around the former Fort Totten Indian Industrial School, which lies on the Spirit Lake Reservation in the northeastern part of the state.

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Denise Lajimodiere, author of a leading book on Native American boarding schools, uses old photos possibly depicting the graves of soldiers to orient herself in a forested area near the Fort Totten State Historic Site, which formerly served as a boarding school for Native American youth. Lajimodiere believes the bodies of former students may be buried near the former school on the Spirit Lake Reservation in northeast North Dakota.
Dave Samson / The Forum
Editor's note: This is the fifth story in an occasional series on Native American boarding schools and their impact on the region's tribes.

FORT TOTTEN, N.D. — On a cloudy October morning, Denise Lajimodiere walked through brambles and tall grass with her eyes to the ground.

Consulting a photo from the 1980s, the scholar scanned the prairie terrain near the Fort Totten State Historic Site for small, tan boulders that could mark graves long hidden from view.

After stumbling across one, she grabbed a plastic baggie of tobacco from her coat pocket, held a pinch tight in her left fist and said a prayer for the bodies that may have been buried under her feet more than a century ago.

Historic site employees believe the boulders could be the vestiges of a cemetery for U.S. soldiers buried in the mid-1800s. Lajimodiere thinks the gravesite may also contain the remains of Native American children who died while attending a boarding school at the former military post.

We know their spirits are still here,” Lajimodiere said solemnly while walking the site on the Spirit Lake Reservation in northeast North Dakota.

Lajimodiere, an enrolled Turtle Mountain citizen whose father and grandfather attended Fort Totten, found evidence that at least 13 Native American boarding schools existed in North Dakota.

The reservation’s federal Indian agent, William Forbes, recruited the Grey Nuns, an order of Catholic sisters from Montreal, to run a “manual labor school,” historian James Carroll writes in the book “Fort Totten Military Post and Indian School.”

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Despite successfully turning in the necessary paperwork this spring to have the former boarding school students' remains exhumed, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Spirit Lake tribes will likely have to wait another year before they can bring the boys home.

 

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Canada's Residential Schools

The religious organizations that operated the schools — the Anglican Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, United Church of Canada, Jesuits of English Canada and some Catholic groups — in 2015 expressed regret for the “well-documented” abuses. The Catholic Church has never offered an official apology, something that Trudeau and others have repeatedly called for.

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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.

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Did you know?
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Did you know?

New York’s 4o-year battle for OBC access ended when on January 15 2020, OBCs were opened to all New York adoptees upon request without restriction. In only three days, over 3,600 adoptees filed for their record of birth. The bill that unsealed records was passed 196-12.

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ADOPTION TRUTH

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.

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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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