I bought a t shirt at the last potawatomi gathering held here. as soon as I seen the text on it I bought it. it was about those that survived boarding school. and those that didn’t. yesterday was orange shirt day so I wore the shirt. I even wore it to town.
i put this same picture of me on facebook. i thought it would open some dialogue about that. it got a few comments. i thought more people would be interested in that experience.
I wrote on my post that I “personally experienced” boarding school. I chose those words because many times some ‘expert’ would talk about what happened to ‘those indian children’. in other words they didn’t go there them selves.
l let a published author I met read my chapter on boarding school. she was half way thru the chapter when she realized that this was a first person account.
once our tribe was gonna pay someone to come here and talk about what boarding school was like. some bureaucrat didn’t understand that some of our own members went to boarding school. what could some one else tell us. that is always the attitude here. some one from some where else knows more than we do.
I was telling one of my close relatives about a time when the nuns gave me a beating. she said I know some one who can top that. I said I am not in competition with anyone to give the worst horror story. she totally missed the point I was finally opening up about some thing that happened to me.
mary went to a boarding school where they have reunions. where I went don’t. no one wants to relive those days. I will never forget the cruelty of those ‘people of God’. they were especially mean to little indian kids. beatings were common. they would call us ‘pagan babies’ or little savages.
over the years I met others that went to the same boarding school. many were alcoholics or drug abusers. I met some during my militant days. most of them were embittered about how they were treated. most had returned to their native ways.
when I worked in prisons as a spiritual advisor I met a guy I went to first, second and third grade with. he asked how I was doing what I was doing and he was doing 30 years for what he did. I didn’t have the answer. others from our school also ended up in prison. I heard of many others meeting violent deaths.
I could go on about boarding school. but I don’t. I have written a chapter about it in my book. it wasn’t my whole life. it was merely a chapter of my life. I survived it. I wouldn’t let it define my life.
I too was a bitter angry young man. I went thru days of alcoholism and drug abuse. I was also involved in too many fights. my violent rage came out. I rejected religion. I bummed around the country for years.
over time I came out of all that. once I was on a trip with my mother. we were near the school. she said lets stop there. I didn’t want to but did. after leaving it I also let it go. it was just a place now.
I read once some one was after compensation for boarding school survivors. yeah as if a coupla bucks can undo that experience.
eventually I found spirituality. it replaced my concept of religion. I can empathize with others that went thru the boarding school experience. indeed we are survivors.