This worldwide movement recognizes the history and contributions of Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas. This year, we will honor those who never returned home from Indian Boarding Schools.
The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (MMAI) was instrumental in advocating for Evanston to become the first Illinois city to recognize Indigenous People’s Day. This year, MMAI will shine a light on one of the darkest chapters for Indigenous Communities across Turtle Island: U.S. Indian Boarding Schools and Canadian Residential Schools. This educational event will explore the government policies enacted, highlight the resiliency of survivors, and discuss the lingering traumatic effects on Indigenous communities.
Indian Boarding Schools in North America
Across the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and forced to attend government and church run boarding schools. The forced assimilation and attempted eradication of Native people through compulsory “residential schools” with a policy of “kill the Indian, save the man” resulted in the loss of life, the loss of a generation of relatives, language speakers, and culture bearers.
In 2007, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established because of the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Here in the United States, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. The Department of the Interior will identify boarding school sites, locations of known and possible student burial sites located at or near school facilities and identify the children and their tribal affiliations to bring them home. Recently, 1,500+ mass unmarked graves have been found at Residential schools across Canada.
In the United States, the Rosebud Sioux Youth Council worked for six years to bring home 9 of their relatives from Carlisle Indian School. After more than 140 years away, they were welcomed home in July of this year. The work to bring the relatives home has just started, we celebrate and honor those who have not made it home yet.
Lauren van Schilfgaarde (Cochiti Pueblo) is the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic Director at UCLA School of Law. van Schilfgaarde supervises live-client projects concerning tribal governance and justice systems, ethics, cultural resource protection, voting, child welfare, and more. She received her undergraduate degree at Colorado College and her law degree from UCLA School of Law.
van Schilfgaarde previously served as the Tribal Law Specialist at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) in West Hollywood, CA. At TLPI, van Schilfgaarde coordinated training and technical assistance to tribal courts, focusing primarily on Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, restorative justice, tribal court infrastructure, and federal Indian law. At TLPI, van Schilfgaarde worked with over eighty tribal nations on various legal infrastructure projects. van Schilfgaarde served as a law clerk for the Native American Rights Fund and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. She was a Public Interest Fellow at American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.
van Schilfgaarde currently serves as a board member for the National Native American Bar Association, as Vice-Chair for the Native American Concerns Committee of the American Bar Association, as a Commissioner for the Lawyers Network Commission of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and as a Board Member of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Child Well-being Program.
Introduce children to Indigenous People’s Day and the North American residential boarding school experience in this informational presentation.
6:00 PM Central
Join us virtually to acknowledge Indigenous People’s Day and discuss the North American residential boarding school experience with special guest speakers
Mission: To lead in the pursuit of understanding and addressing the ongoing trauma created by the U.S. Indian Boarding School policy.
Brenda J. Child, Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940 (2000)
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Jean Mendoza, & Debbie Reese, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People (2019)
How the US stole thousands of Native American Children – Youtube (13:47 minutes)
For more information about this program, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2021: Statement by the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (MMAI) on Indian Boarding Schools in the United States and Canada
On July 17, 2021, the remains of nine Rosebud Sioux children were returned to their ancestral grounds on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation for burial. The children died nearly a century earlier in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, one of the United States’ many forced boarding schools designed to eradicate indigenous culture. In May, the unmarked graves of 215 children were identified at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada. The announcement sparked international outcry and brought new attention to a devastating truth and loss felt by Native peoples in the United States and Canada today. The forced assimilation and attempted eradication of Native people through compulsory “residential schools” with a policy of “kill the Indian, save the man” resulted in the loss of life, the loss of a generation of relatives, language speakers, and culture bearers.
With that, we applaud U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American cabinet secretary, for beginning the conversation to hold the United States government accountable through the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. The Department of the Interior will identify boarding school sites, locations of known and possible student burial sites located at or near school facilities and identify the children and their tribal affiliations to bring them home to their families.
Our hearts continue to be with the First Nation communities in Canada and Native American communities here in the United State as mass graves continue to be uncovered at residential schools that were created to destroy the vast cultures of indigenous communities by ripping children from their communities and forbidding them from practicing their culture. It is important for the United States and Canada to finally take responsibility for their past brutal policies and actions.
When the time is right, after the healing process for the numerous communities that continue to be impacted by this traumatic history, MMAI will use its platform to give boarding school survivors a voice in educating the public. In the meantime, we will advocate for the resources needed for communities to start the healing process.
For more information on the history of Native American Boarding Schools, please visit The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition website.