(Podcast Transcription Below)
[Opening & Intro Music]
Niyawe! Thank you for checking out the Shawnee Rising Podcast. If you missed it, I had some new artwork drop in my Online Studio at shawneerisingstudios.com. Go check it out.
In this short episode, I just wanna talk about something for a bit. There was some sad news in Canada this last week or so…an unmarked gravesite was found at a residential school where the remains of 215 First Nations children were discovered. It was the Kamloops Indian Residential School located in Kamloops, British Columbia, in Canada.
If you know anything at all about Indigenous history, Canada or America, you probably know the history of residential schools; but native children were taken from their families and placed in these residential schools run by religious groups in order to eliminate all aspects and influence of their indigenous culture and then assimilate them to Canadian and/or American culture. Forced to pray and take sacrament. Their hair cut short. Forced to learn English and to never speak their native language.
To quote a Bishop on the goal of residential schools, “We instill in them a pronounced distaste for the native life so that they will be humiliated when reminded of their origin. When they graduate from our institutions, the children have lost everything Native except their blood.” That quote was from Bishop Vital Grandin in 1875. Another well-known quote that comes from one of the founders of the first Indian boarding school, Richard Pratt, is “Kill the Indian, save the man,” and which is probably the most widely known. So, as most people know, the goal from the very beginning was to wipe out all traces of “nativeness” from the children. Kill the savage and all that is left is a man.
So, Kamloops Indian Residential School, once one of the largest residential schools in Canada, had secrets buried in its soil. 215 First Nation children that never returned home to the parents so desperately waiting for their return.
Indigenous people all across Turtle Island are angry, as we damn well have a right to be. It’s something that Indigenous people in America and First Nations people in Canada have known but couldn’t get funding or get the governments to look into. There is a call to the governments now to fund a search of all residential schools for unmarked graves. We know there are more. 215 was just the beginning. How many more is uncertain, but we know there are more children waiting to be found. This wasn’t an isolated incident.
Now, residential schools are just one aspect of Christian history as to why I decided to leave Christianity and never return. It’s a religion that was never meant for me or my people or any Indigenous people. It was forced on our ancestors and our grandparents. Atrocities took place in those schools, as told by survivors. Those who ran those places were not Christians. They were evil people.
Now, I get told a lot that we can’t judge Christians today by how they believed back then. “People believed differently back then,” is what I am always told. But, even today I am told that by choosing my Shawnee culture over Christianity is “wrong.” That I need to “get my life right” or that “I am lost.”
These are quotes from people I know today. I’m not being forced into church or school, or my hair being cut short…but I’m being told my ways are wrong. So, in my opinion, yes, the belief is still the same, but the actions taken are what’s different. Well, somewhat different. Governments still do things that haven’t changed in over a hundred years, including still calling us “merciless Indian savages” in their Declaration of Independence, stealing our land, and in some ways, still taking our children. They just hide it behind their laws and/or regulations nowadays.
I am who I am because that’s who my ancestors wanted me to be, who they fought and died for us to continue to be; Shawnee. After everything that our people have fought through, after everything our they’ve been through, we are still here. We should live in such a way that honors that resiliency. Sawanwa nela! I am Shawnee! That’s not wrong. That’s not evil. My life is right and my path is the right one. My path may be overgrown and hard to see at times but I’m following it to the very end.
Niyawe! Thank you again for checking out the Shawnee Rising Podcast. I know this was a very short episode. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to talk about the 215 children found in Canada on the podcast, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and I just felt I needed to make it a short episode.
Though it was known to the Indigenous people in Canada and America, it’s now concrete proof that evil things took place at these residential schools. I mean, they didn’t report those deaths. They didn’t even notify the family. Can you imagine? People coming in and taking your children and then never seeing them again and not even knowing what happened to them. It’s infuriating! There will be more found. It’s sad to think that, but the people know. We need to search all of the residential schools. Their soil holds secrets. Their soil holds children. Mother Earth will care for them until the time comes for them to be found…and, in time, we will find them.
Salanoki Kenole, niyawe!