The devastating impact of the Native American boarding school system | #predators | #childpredators | #kids

Imagine being a child taken in handcuffs from your home and transported thousands of miles to a cold prison-like building. Imagine being beaten bloody for speaking English.  

Imagine being always hungry and cold. Imagine huddling in terror in the middle of the night in a cold dormitory room knowing that at any moment you could be snatched from your bed by sexual predators roaming the hallways like wild animals searching for prey.

Imagine being a parent and finding soldiers at your home who abduct your children to parts unknown. Imagine the terror felt by parents and children, some of whom are toddlers only 2 or 3 years old.

This was the lot of countless Indigenous families in Canada and the U.S. beginning in the late 19th century as their children were kidnapped to so-called Indian boarding schools. 

Scenes from the  “Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories" exhibit at the Heard Museum.

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A horrendous reality 

Albert Bender

In Canada over 150,000 children were so abducted. In the U.S. the numbers were much higher, at this time unknown, but being investigated. In Canada, approximately 25,000 children perished in these dungeons of horror, and as many as 40,000 perished in the U.S. versions of these veritable prisons.

The children died by the thousands from being subjected to hunger, malnutrition, disease, lack of medical care, brutality, sexual abuse and molestation.

Nonetheless, many children resisted.

My grandmother told of her mother speaking of her Oklahoma boarding experience and of young Indian boys cutting the seats out of their pants and putting on breechcloths, called “flaps” in those days.

Others simply ran away, communicated secretly or would take the blame for a younger child’s disobedience or misconduct. These institutions were labeled as schools but their purpose was to assimilate Indian children into white society via cultural genocide.

Scenes from the Heard Museum's renovated exhibit “Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories.”

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This became literal genocide 

Just about every day there is more online news of the scandal of the “genocide schools” that operated in the U.S. and Canada under the guise of educating Indigenous children from the 1870s to the 1960s.  

Scenes from the  “Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories" exhibit at the Heard Museum.

Recently, it was reported that at its annual meeting, the American Bar Association voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Department of the Interior in its efforts to investigate the atrocious history of U.S. Indian boarding schools.

Thousands of children perished under the horrific conditions of these institutions of extermination. The present-day legacy of those times can still be seen by looking at our country’s foster care system. Native children are still being placed in non-Native homes. Tennessee, in fact, has Indigenous children in non-Indian homes.

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