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Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Boarding School Abuse: “To Heal We Must Know the Truth”

"They always go for our babies." -Emily Edenshaw, President & CEO at Alaska Native Heritage Center

Chief Bill Erasmus, Emily Edenshaw, Gunn-Britt Retter and Benjamin Jacuk.JPG
Chief Bill Erasmus, Emily Edenshaw, at the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Gunn-Britt Retter at the Saami Council and Benjamin Jacuk at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. (Photo: Trine Jonassen)
 
Anchorage Alaska (High North News): 
He admitted that this was genocide. -Chief Bill Erasmus
 
Most Arctic nations have been affected by assimilating and oppressive boarding school policies. Now indigenous community leaders are looking for healing as they brace for the dark truth of a government-led genocide.

Ground zero

The boarding school practice started in Alaska in 1879, 12 years after the USA purchased the Arctic state from Russia without consulting the indigenous population.

Maybe that is also where the healing has to start.

"Alaska may be ground zero for all of this.  But ground zero can also be the place of healing for indigenous peoples from all over the world," Jacuk concludes.

In 2015 the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada concluded what happened was "cultural genocide". It identified more than 3,000 children who died from disease due to overcrowding, malnutrition, and poor sanitation or died after being abused or trying to run away.

Most schools had their own cemeteries, and sometimes when children died, their parents were never informed.

 

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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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