“even Quakers if you can believe that“. I heard this from an Indigenous friend during a presentation about institutions of forced assimilation. This is damning for us Quakers. A jarring dichotomy of being viewed as leaders in the work for peace and justice and yet to have participated, continue to participate in the cultural genocide of Native peoples. Cultural genocide and oppression continue today.
A great deal has been said about white people making the best of a bad situation when native lands and peoples were overwhelmed by the flood of white settler colonists moving across the land. Saying it was in the best interest of the native children to be educated about the white world. When instead this intentional cruelty was intended to break the resistance of Native peoples who did not want to give up their lands. And it was successful.
Unless there is documentation, or oral history, we don’t know what a given individual, perhaps one of our ancestors, might have done in these institutions. Additionally, there are so many ways we ourselves have failed our children and future generations. The extinction of millions of species will eventually include human beings.
But none of that excuses the idea that white people are somehow superior. That is diametrically opposed to the idea that there is that of God in every person and thing. A shameful legacy of oppression of black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC) that continues.
My friend Sikowis and her cousin Janna Pratt gave a Zoom presentation about Native American Boarding School Violence & Whitewashed History as part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom 34th Triennial Congress.
Janna Pratt and Sikowis Nobiss are cousins and both citizens of the George Gordon First Nation and will discuss the rape, torture, and murder of Indigenous children in Canada and the US due to boarding school / residential school policy in the US and Canada and the silence behind the Indigenous genocide on Turtle Island. Janna lives in Saskatchewan, Canada and Sikowis lives in Iowa, USA. They will also delve into the work they are doing to overcome historical trauma and combat the erasure of this crisis by white supremacist governments.
She (Sikowis )is also a speaker, writer, and artist and believes that environmental and social justice work are inextricably linked and change will only happen when we dismantle corrupt colonial-capitalist systems and rebuild them with a decolonized worldview.
With the recent discoveries of children who perished while attending Indian residential schools, her (Janna) sights are now set on finding the children. Janna is a 4th generation residential school survivor and has lived through the decimation of culture these schools forced upon children, built under a policy enforced by the Canadian government to inflict cultural genocide. Janna is currently working on an archive that will gather information on residential schools, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples, and veteran information to build resources for Indigenous communities. She hopes to inspire other projects with this knowledge and create Indigenous virtual reality experiences that are accessible no matter the distance.
They made the connections between Native children violently removed from their families, many times never to return, to the current epidemic of violence against Native women, to Missing and murdered Indigenous relatives (MMIR). The forced removal of Native children continues to this day, by social service agencies.
One of the topics of the presentation was the silence behind the Indigenous genocide on Turtle Island. Will we break this silence?
As Sikowis says, change will only happen when we dismantle corrupt colonial-capitalist systems and rebuild them with a decolonized worldview.
This means we must move away from the colonial capitalist system. Seriously! The concepts of LANDBACK are about how to do that. For the past several months I’ve been building the website LANDBACK Friends to help with education about these ideas. https://landbackfriends.com/
I hope you will join us, to find ways to break the silence behind Indigenous genocide.
Cultural erasure continues.
Before the South Dakota Department of Education released a draft of new social studies standards last week, department officials took out more than a dozen references to education on the Oceti Sakowin.
“Oceti Sakowin” refers collectively to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people who are indigenous to South Dakota and surrounding states.
Several of the standards on Oceti Sakowin were removed completely, including:
- In kindergarten civics, discussing the meaning of kinship to the Oceti Sakowin Oyate.
- In kindergarten geography, discussing the tribal nations of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate.
- In first grade civics, identifying symbols of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, including but not limited to star quilt, buffalo and medicine wheels.
- In first grade geography, recognizing the nine contemporary reservations of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate on a South Dakota map.
- In second grade civics, exploring the concepts of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, including but not limited to tribal flags, celebrations (powwows), beadwork, dreamcatchers, music and artwork.
- In second grade geography, identifying names and locations of Oceti Sakowin Oyate tribes within our communities and state.
- In third grade civics, learning how to describe tribal organizational structures (council, chairman, etc.)
- In third grade geography, researching the nine tribes in South Dakota
- In fifth grade, standards for learning about tribal sovereignty in civics class and how natural resources and migration affected the lives and culture of the Oceti Sakowin were both removed completely.
- In eighth grade history, examining major cultural traits and resiliency of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate throughout history
- In eighth grade history, critiquing significant primary sources, including Oceti Sakowin Oyate treaties, and their impact on events of this time period.
In eighth grade civics, two grade-level standards on Indigenous topics were removed completely, including evaluating changing federal policy toward Indigenous Native Americans, and comparing and contrasting the structure of the U.S. government and sovereign tribal governments.
South Dakota DOE removed Indigenous topics from social studies standards before final draft by Morgan Matzen, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, August 10, 2021