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2017-03-16 / Voices

Targeting Native Children To Erase Culture

DELPHINE RED SHIRT
Ahitonwan Yanke

In the past few efforts were made or resources were committed to help tribal governments develop services on tribal lands that would strengthen Indian families according to the American Indian adoptees blog. It wasn’t important to keep tribal communities intact. What was more important to the federal government was to eradicate tribal communities by not helping to keep families together.

The federal government has always focused on Native American children as the target population where culture can be eradicated through re-education and brainwashing away Native culture. We know this from the boarding school era in the late 1800s. We also, know this from earlier historic times when the federal government entrusted the education of Native American children to Christian missionaries who immediately worked to erase language and culture. If children do not learn their language they also lose the ability to access important cultural information.

When we think about government policy with regard to Native American children we have to, very honestly, look at the policy outcomes. We have to ask the federal government today to admit to the truth of what those outcomes are. What happened to those children?

This accountability also includes the Catholic

Church or any religious entity that established boarding schools for Native American children that sought to erase language and culture through education. In all cases, outcomes need to be truthfully reported. At Carlisle Boarding School the cemetery located on the school property attests to what happened to some of the children there.

Today, we as Native Americans need to push our tribal governments to keep our children home, on our reservations, in our communities. They need to build the infrastructure just as they are building homes for the elderly. We need to protect our future as tribal communities by focusing on keeping all of our children nearby when their families can no longer care for them. The government recognized the value in taking them from us and we need to take back our power.

Delphine Red Shirt redshirtphd@gmail.com

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