Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
MT. PLEASANT, MICHIGAN Experts believe that one of the single most federal American Indian policies that impact lives of American Indians today was the policy that created the boarding schools. Dr. Suzanne Cross, Saginaw Chippewa, associate professor of social work at Michigan State University, is one such expert. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on historical trauma associated with boarding schools. Dr. Cross was one of the speakers who spoke at yesterday's event.
The Remembrance took place on the grounds of the former
Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School.
Wounds take time to heal. Even when wounds heal, scars remain.
Even though the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School closed decades ago in 1934, the scars remain.
Historical trauma is passed down from one generation to the next.
So, it was only appropriate for those gathered in this college town located in central Michigan at the grounds of the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School for the "Honoring, Healing & Remembering" to come with together as a means to heal from the scars of the boarding school experience.
The Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School was established in 1893 by an act of Congress, compelling Indian children to be removed from the care of their families to attend residential schools. The Mt. Pleasant Indian School operated until 1934, with an average enrollment of 300 students annually.
Wednesday's events began with sunrise ceremony at the grounds of the tribal cemetery some 7 miles from the boarding school. Wearing red t shirts with the names of 154 dead students around their necks, walkers and runners traveled from the tribal headquarters to the boarding school grounds.
They were met there by 200 people from various Michigan Indian tribes, who were waiting there to participate in the day long healing ceremony, which began with the lighting of a ceremonial fire, followed by a pipe ceremony led by George Martin.
154 Students Died Here While Attending School.
Speaker after speaker spoke about their experiences of being impacted by boarding schools. Many of the speakers were overcome with emotion. Some openly cried as they spoke.
Several boarding school survivors attended the event. Other speakers spoke about the long lasting impact of boarding schools.
“I did not come with prepared notes, but I can speak about how boarding schools affected me through my parents who attended. I come from a family of alcoholics,”
stated Alan Shively, tribal chairman of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, based in Watersmeet, Michigan.
“I began to heal after I heard Warren Petoskey come to my reservation to talk about boarding schools. Because of what he taught us that day, I learned to forgive my elders. I thought differently. He taught us that it was not their fault. They were living with the effects of boarding schools.”
Several Christian pastors spoke about healing, citing scriptures on forgiveness as a means to heal.
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Editor's Note: Yesterday, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan held an event called, "Honoring, Healing & Remembering" as a means of healing from the long-lasting effects of Indian boarding schools. The event was a day long event with several speakers. The Native News Network was there to cover the event.
posted June 7, 2012 11:59 am edt
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