Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Seek truth about Indian boarding schools in Minnesota


Two dozen Minnesota tribal leaders gathered in Hinckley recently for an unprecedented and grievous task. They were there to discuss horrific discoveries of mass, unmarked graves at Indian boarding schools in Canada — and to contemplate the very real possibility that similar discoveries await us here in Minnesota.

Minnesota once had 16 such institutions, including a number of contract schools operated by religious groups, similar to the practice in Canada. They were created, in a phrase common at the time, to "kill the Indian and save the man" by taking Indian children from their homes, stripping them of their culture and training them mostly for manual and domestic labor. The schools operated across the country from the 1860s to the 1960s.

Kevin Dupuis, chairman of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and others have a different word for what happened to them: genocide. At the private meeting, which an editorial writer attended, Dupuis said, "What else would you call forced assimilation, destroying a culture?" He added: "If corporal punishment was used to silence, it's only my opinion, but I believe people are buried out there without formal cemeteries."


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