Uncovering the Hidden History of Genoa Indian School
In this panel discussion, team members from the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project and community members will share the lasting impact of the Genoa Indian Boarding School in Nebraska. The Genoa School was one of over 300 Indian boarding schools that were established by the government and churches in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1900, nearly 21,000 Indian children were living apart from their families at one of the boarding schools. In many cases, officials forced children to attend the schools against the wishes of their families and tribes.
Judi gaiashkibos (Ponca), Executive Director, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs
Dr. Rudi Mitchell (Omaha Indian Nation of Nebraska and Iowa), professor emeritus, Native American Studies, Creighton University
Dr. Margaret Jacobs, Project Co-Director
Dr. Susana D. Grajales Geliga (Lakota and Taino), Project Co-Director
Dr. Elizabeth Lorang, Project Co-Director
Part of the Hubbard Lecture, annual lecture advancing the understanding and appreciation of the cultural heritage of the First Peoples of the Plains. Made possible by contributions from Anne M. Hubbard and the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation.
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[00:00:09.910]I'm Susan Weller, the Director
[00:00:11.840]of the Universities of Nebraska State Museum.
[00:00:14.900]And I'm pleased to welcome you all tonight
[00:00:16.960]to the Center for Great Plains Studies.
[00:00:20.640]Let us begin by acknowledging
[00:00:23.400]that the University of Nebraska is a land grant institution
[00:00:27.610]with campuses and programs on the past, present
[00:00:31.770]and future homelands of the Pawnee, Ponca,
[00:00:37.420]Juwere and Otoe-Missouria,
[00:00:41.190]Omaha, Dakota, Lakota,
[00:00:45.182]Kansa, Cheyenne and Arapaho Peoples as well as those
[00:00:51.130]of the relocated Ho-Chunk, Sac and Fox and Iowa Peoples.
[00:00:57.880]the land we currently call Nebraska has always been
[00:01:01.740]and will continue to be an Indigenous Homeland.
[00:01:06.210]Please take a moment to consider the legacies
[00:01:09.290]of more than 150 years of displacement, violence,
[00:01:14.460]settlement, and survival, that brings us together today.
[00:01:28.660]This acknowledgement and the centering of Indigenous Peoples
[00:01:32.260]is a start as we move forward together
[00:01:35.400]for the next 150 years.
[00:01:39.210]As part of the centering, education is going to
[00:01:43.330]help us move forward together.
[00:01:45.150]The museum is partnering with the Center
[00:01:47.610]for the Great Plains Study to bring together a panel
[00:01:51.060]to help us all learn about the Genoa School
[00:01:54.750]and the work that is occurring to document
[00:01:57.130]the hidden tragedies and lost lives that took place
[00:02:00.780]at this Indian boarding school.
[00:02:03.310]I wish to thank the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation
[00:02:06.840]and the Paul A. Olson Foundation
[00:02:09.330]for supporting tonight's event.
[00:02:11.880]Trustee, Dr. Hubbard is here tonight
[00:02:14.920]and thank you Anne, for the foundation's generous support.
[00:02:26.000]And although he could not be with us tonight,
[00:02:28.500]I do wish to thank Chancellor Green
[00:02:30.520]for his leadership and for constituting,
[00:02:33.230]a Native American and Indigenous Advisory Board
[00:02:36.430]to guide the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
[00:02:39.320]Several members are in the audience tonight and online.
[00:02:43.250]And if you are here, would you please rise and accept
[00:02:46.610]our thanks for your service to the Chancellor and UNL.
[00:02:52.310]And I know Judi is here and Anne is here
[00:02:56.010]and there were a couple of others, so...
[00:03:05.750]I will now briefly introduce our panelists and ask them
[00:03:08.820]to greet the audience here and online.
[00:03:11.490]They will each present.
[00:03:12.910]And at the end of their presentations,
[00:03:14.620]there'll be a moderated Q&A session.
[00:03:17.660]And online viewers, please drop your questions
[00:03:20.810]into the Q&A link or chat.
[00:03:24.000]And in this room, I will call upon you and recognize you.
[00:03:29.134]So you can ask your questions.
[00:03:32.170]I'd first like to introduce you to Dr. Rudi Mitchell,
[00:03:35.720]who is an enrolled member of the Omaha Indian Nation
[00:03:38.750]of Nebraska and Iowa.
[00:03:40.620]He is a retired professor of Native American Studies at
[00:03:45.520]He has a doctorate in counseling psychology
[00:03:47.990]and has worked 35 years on two Indian
[00:03:50.850]reservations here in Nebraska.
[00:03:52.980]He is a formal chairman of the Omaha Nation
[00:03:55.840]and direct descendant of Chief Big Elk of the Omaha Nation.
[00:04:00.350]He was also a Vietnam veteran.
[00:04:03.250]Thank you, Rudi for your service and for joining us tonight,
[00:04:06.950]please feel free to introduce yourself to the audience.
[00:04:13.993](professor speaking in Omaha-Ponca)
[00:04:31.225]I'm an elder of the Omaha Nation.
[00:04:32.957]I'm 81 years old.
[00:04:34.250]It's customary for me to introduce myself
[00:04:36.650]in my Native language.
[00:04:38.660]It's part of our culture and I want to do that this morning.
[00:04:42.859]I'm sorry, this afternoon.
[00:04:46.104]You know, today's Veteran's Day and I took part
[00:04:49.580]in some of the activities in the City of Omaha
[00:04:52.245]Veteran's Day, but if there's any veterans out here,
[00:04:55.520]I want to acknowledge you.
[00:04:56.980]I served during the Vietnam War in the Army Medical Corps,
[00:05:01.952]as many Native Americans have done in the past,
[00:05:05.430]but I'm very honored to be here today
[00:05:07.630]and to be part of the panel here tonight.
[00:05:17.990]I'd now like to introduce Ms. Judi gaiashkibos
[00:05:21.150]who is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska,
[00:05:24.770]a graduate of Doane College.
[00:05:26.780]She has served as Executive Director
[00:05:28.820]of Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs since 1995.
[00:05:33.520]Judi works with the government and private sector
[00:05:35.870]to provide opportunities for Nebraska Indians,
[00:05:38.930]foster diversity and cultural sensitivity.
[00:05:42.700]She has done this in the Nebraska State Legislature,
[00:05:47.180]she's promoted state and federal legislation
[00:05:49.900]and advanced sovereignty issues.
[00:05:52.140]She was the 2012 recipient
[00:05:54.040]of the Humanities Nebraska Sower Award.
[00:05:56.830]She served on countless nonprofit and institutional boards
[00:06:01.210]and her vision and commitment to celebrating the stories
[00:06:04.120]of Nebraska's Native heroes and youth education
[00:06:06.950]are simply inspiring.
[00:06:09.420]Most recently, she led the initiative to install
[00:06:12.210]a statute to honor Dr. Susan Picotte La Flesche,
[00:06:15.940]the first Native American women doctor,
[00:06:18.450]who now stands not too far from
[00:06:20.590]us on the State Capitol grounds.
[00:06:22.960]Thank you Judi, for joining us tonight, please feel free
[00:06:26.260]to introduce yourself further to our audience.
[00:06:31.330]Thank you, Susan.
[00:06:32.900]It's really a pleasure and an honor to be invited
[00:06:36.120]to be a part of this panel and to talk about
[00:06:38.910]the Genoa Indian School and this dark part
[00:06:43.400]of our country's history.
[00:06:46.080]I am a survivor-descendant of the Genoa Indian School
[00:06:51.380]as is Dr. Rudi Mitchell.
[00:06:53.920]Our mothers both went to the Genoa Indian School
[00:06:57.540]as well as two of my mother's sisters.
[00:07:00.500]And every day more and more, I feel so fortunate
[00:07:05.610]that my mother survived the school.
[00:07:09.050]As we know so many didn't and today I was visiting
[00:07:14.970]with my daughters on Veteran's Day.
[00:07:17.720]I too want to acknowledge all of the veterans
[00:07:20.020]in the audience and especially our Native People
[00:07:23.120]who serve at a higher rate than anyone
[00:07:25.970]in the United States to protect our homelands.
[00:07:29.950]And so I had the day off as a state employee,
[00:07:32.880]and I was communicating with my two daughters
[00:07:36.284]and my two daughters never met my mother.
[00:07:39.220]She died before I had my daughters,
[00:07:41.820]and I have five grandchildren.
[00:07:43.400]And my one daughter texted me and said,
[00:07:45.976]"I had shared some sad news that you'll hear here tonight."
[00:07:50.017]"That we've have found more of our children
[00:07:53.140]that died at this school than we thought."
[00:07:55.300]And she said, "Mom, I'm just so thankful that your mother
[00:07:59.380]made it out of that school alive."
[00:08:01.980]So I'm not going to go into too much right now.
[00:08:05.510]We're just to introduce, correct?
[00:08:08.120]Who we are, I am honored to be the Executive Director
[00:08:10.820]of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs,
[00:08:12.730]starting my 27th year, and in our culture,
[00:08:17.060]it's an honor to be an elder and I am an elder
and I'm happy to be an elder.
[00:08:22.780]And I'm so blessed by my family, those who I descend from
[00:08:28.592]and those, my grandchildren.
[00:08:31.570]And I look forward to visiting with you more about our story
[00:08:35.120]and everything that we're going to learn tonight.
[00:08:39.932](Ms. gaiashkibos greets in Omaha-Ponca)
[00:08:41.280]Thank you, Judi.
[00:08:48.830]I now wish to introduce Dr. Susana, Oh, I'm sorry...
[00:08:55.413]Geliga, who is an enrolled member
[00:08:57.420]of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and is of Taino descent.
[00:09:01.740]She received her PhD in History with a specialization
[00:09:05.030]in Ethnic Studies and her MA in History
[00:09:07.840]with a focus on Great Plains Study from UNL.
[00:09:11.790]Her primary areas of research are the histories
[00:09:14.440]of Native American women and the construction
[00:09:16.790]of Native American identities in the early 20th century,
[00:09:20.650]she founded the Little White Buffalo Project,
[00:09:23.200]a Lakota language and cultural preservation nonprofit.
[00:09:27.160]She has been active nationally and internationally
[00:09:29.990]with the preservation of languages
[00:09:31.700]and cultures of Indigenous Peoples.
[00:09:34.290]She is co-director for the Genoa Indian School,
[00:09:37.430]Digital Reconciliation Project here at UNL.
[00:09:41.300]Thank you Susana for joining us tonight.
[00:09:43.760]Please feel free to introduce yourself
[00:09:45.610]further to our audience.
[00:09:48.143]Can you hear me? Okay.
[00:09:50.275](Dr. Geliga speaking in Native American language)
[00:09:58.203]I said good afternoon. Thank you for coming.
[00:10:00.930]I'm so excited to see all of you.
[00:10:02.950]And I would like to extend a warm,
[00:10:05.150]heartfelt handshake to all of you.
[00:10:07.080]And it's so good to be home here at UNL.
[00:10:09.820]These are my stomping grounds, so it's good to be back here.
[00:10:13.435](thanking in Native American)
[00:10:22.410]Dr. Elizabeth Lorang is Associate Professor of Libraries
[00:10:26.485]at UNL where she directs and contributes
[00:10:29.790]to a number of digital humanities activities.
[00:10:32.760]She is the principal investigator of the NIH funded project
[00:10:36.430]Image Analysis for Archival Discovery,
[00:10:39.420]directs the Digital Scholarship Incubator
[00:10:42.080]and co-teaches the Digital Humanities Practicum course.
[00:10:45.640]Liz is a co-director for the Genoa Indian School
[00:10:48.640]Digital Reconciliation Project here at UNL.
[00:10:52.130]Thank you Liz for joining us tonight.
[00:10:54.190]Please feel free to introduce yourself further.
[00:10:57.180]Great. Thank you, Susan.
[00:10:58.350]And good evening, everyone.
[00:11:01.013]I'm thinking about how I might introduce myself today.
[00:11:04.060]I think what I wanted to share most is that
[00:11:06.480]so I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska,
[00:11:09.400]and I went for far too much of my life,
[00:11:11.440]not knowing about Indian boarding schools
[00:11:13.710]and it took leaving the state for me to learn about them.
[00:11:17.270]And it took even more of my life before I learned
[00:11:20.690]that we had a boarding school here in Nebraska at Genoa,
[00:11:24.340]and now I'm in my role as a librarian,
[00:11:26.830]I realized that access to information
[00:11:29.340]is always a way of structuring power
[00:11:31.950]and that my mission now is to use my role and expertise
[00:11:35.240]and my position to address historical and contemporary
[00:11:38.640]imbalances in information power.
[00:11:48.120]I'd now like to introduce Dr. Margaret Jacobs.
[00:11:51.010]She became the director of this wonderful center in 2020,
[00:11:54.920]and she is the Chancellor's Professor of History.
[00:11:57.920]She is the author of three books
[00:11:59.880]and over three dozen articles, most of which focus
[00:12:03.300]on the history of Indigenous child removal
[00:12:06.360]by the governments of the United States,
[00:12:08.530]Canada and Australia from the late
[00:12:10.920]19th century up to the present.
[00:12:13.555]Thank you Margaret for joining us tonight
[00:12:15.830]and for hosting us, please feel free to introduce yourself.
[00:12:23.040]Thank you so much, Susan,
[00:12:24.460]and thank you to my fellow panelists.
[00:12:26.947]It's really an honor to be with you all tonight
[00:12:30.100]and with all of you in the audience as well.
[00:12:32.603]I am a non-Indigenous person.
[00:12:35.190]I'm a settler, and I wanted to become involved
[00:12:41.370]in researching more about the Genoa Project.
[00:12:44.960]after I attended the final ceremony
[00:12:47.000]of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015.
[00:12:51.500]That very moving experience led me to think,
[00:12:55.447]"What could I do as a scholar?"
[00:12:57.999]How can I use what resources and skills
[00:13:01.119]I have developed as a historian over the years
[00:13:04.324]in the service of Indigenous People?"
[00:13:06.890]And so I'm very delighted to be here and honored
[00:13:10.330]to be here with my fellow panelists and all of you.
[00:13:21.010]Okay, now what you've really
[00:13:22.440]been waiting for, which is for all our panelists to talk
[00:13:25.480]about their areas of expertise, and I believe Susana,
[00:13:30.680]you are leading us off and you all have control.
[00:13:33.920]If you need me to do anything, just call on me.
[00:13:39.190]Well, the idea of boarding schools originated
[00:13:42.380]from a Colonel Richard Pratt,
[00:13:44.740]who at the time was also known as an Indian killer.
[00:13:48.400]And in the 1870s, he had acquired the responsibility
[00:13:53.250]of looking after some Native American prisoners of war
[00:13:56.870]at Fort Marion in Florida.
[00:13:59.120]And after a while, he felt like he could rehabilitate them
[00:14:03.270]by cutting their hair, making them wear military uniforms,
[00:14:09.250]maintaining a military style of regime,
[00:14:12.970]requiring them to learn and speak English
[00:14:15.980]and to force them to attend church.
[00:14:19.800]And after a while, he thought his program,
[00:14:26.710]it would be successful, his focus, and so he approached,
[00:14:31.950]he petitioned actually the government to fund
[00:14:34.840]the first Native American boarding school
[00:14:36.670]in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
[00:14:40.090]And he very quickly accrued a following
[00:14:44.310]of some influential groups, such as former abolitionists
[00:14:48.240]and white women reformers, who in turn turned around
[00:14:52.700]and pressured the government to fund
[00:14:54.460]more Native American boarding schools.
[00:14:56.610]And so eventually the government ran,
[00:15:01.280]opened and ran about 153 schools throughout the country.
[00:15:05.260]And various churches also operated
[00:15:08.040]about 200 schools throughout the country.
[00:15:11.020]And so up to about World War II,
[00:15:15.089]boarding schools, just, they were so common.
[00:15:17.880]They became a part of Native American life.
[00:15:20.270]And by 1900, 78% of Native American children,
[00:15:28.180]78% were taken away from their families,
[00:15:31.650]ranging from ages 3, 5, 7 onward.
[00:15:35.190]And in many instances you find stories
[00:15:37.830]where there were even babies at these schools.
[00:15:48.046]Oh, sorry, I just lost my train of thought.
[00:15:50.630]And so even though, the government eventually
[00:15:53.990]by the 1930s and the 1940s had closed
[00:15:57.570]many of the schools after World War II,
[00:16:00.920]there were still many schools that were still functioning
[00:16:04.120]throughout Indian country, particularly
[00:16:06.510]with Navajo people and the Alaska Natives.
[00:16:10.840]And so, when people are learning about boarding school
[00:16:15.150]history, some of the common questions are like,
[00:16:18.527]"Why boarding schools, why not day schools?"
[00:16:21.347]"Why not schools that were close to the reservation?"
[00:16:23.950]But the reality is that, this very complex
[00:16:29.620]and expensive boarding school system
[00:16:31.890]was part of a government assimilation policy
[00:16:36.530]that was intended to strip Native peoples
[00:16:39.410]of their unique cultures, their languages,
[00:16:44.010]their claims to the land and their sovereignty.
[00:16:49.029]While you had these officials trying to figure out
[00:16:53.270]how to take care of this Indian problem or these problems,
[00:16:59.420]of Indian people and coming up with the idea
[00:17:03.092]or coming up with the plan to take children
[00:17:06.220]away from their schools.
[00:17:07.340]You also had many settlers who were claiming
[00:17:10.080]that the Indian problem was Indian poverty
[00:17:14.520]and their dependence on the government, but in reality,
[00:17:19.090]it was the government and settlers
[00:17:22.200]that were impoverishing Indian people.
[00:17:26.044]When they were talking about the Indian problem,
[00:17:33.060]what they were really talking about was
[00:17:36.490]the fact that Indians had persisted and that they were still
[00:17:40.850]asserting rights to the land and to their sovereignty,
[00:17:46.300]to religion and to their diverse cultures.
[00:17:49.810]And so there were many horrible aspects of boarding school,
[00:17:54.770]but I think the most horrible would be,
[00:17:57.340]was to strip children from their families.
[00:18:00.330]And so there were Native families,
[00:18:03.930]some Native families who willingly
[00:18:06.280]sent their children to boarding schools,
[00:18:08.170]but there were many, many, many Native families
[00:18:11.760]who resisted having their children taken away from them.
[00:18:14.600]And unfortunately that resistance was met
[00:18:18.274]by the government force of the military and of police
[00:18:24.950]and sometimes just outright starving people by denying them
[00:18:29.047]their rations that were guaranteed to them by treaties.
[00:18:33.230]And that's the thing that many people don't know
[00:18:36.155]that happened to Native families,
[00:18:39.455]for children that were sent to schools.
[00:18:49.110]So good evening again,
[00:18:52.341]I'm going to talk about how the boarding school system
[00:18:55.650]played out at the Genoa Indian School.
[00:18:58.210]The Genoa Indian School operated
[00:18:59.840]for 50 years, from 1884 to 1934.
[00:19:05.240]It enrolled children from 40 different tribal nations
[00:19:08.970]ranging in age from four to 22.
[00:19:13.000]And it started out as one building on 320 acres
[00:19:16.810]and grew to over 30 buildings on 640 acres.
[00:19:21.290]It's peak enrollment was in 1932 with 600 students.
[00:19:26.610]The school was originally built on lands
[00:19:29.040]that had been negotiated by the Pawnee Nation
[00:19:33.350]in a treaty in 1857, that established a Pawnee Reservation
[00:19:37.750]along the Loop River in Central Nebraska.
[00:19:40.710]And the Pawnees had negotiated for a reservation school.
[00:19:45.190]And this operated from 1866 to 1874.
[00:19:50.300]But the Pawnees, as many of you may know,
[00:19:52.310]were exiled from Nebraska to Indian territory by 1875.
[00:19:57.160]And the school closed for a brief time.
[00:20:00.960]In the 1880s, the US Government chose Genoa
[00:20:03.850]as a site for an off-reservation boarding school
[00:20:07.080]because it was several days ride
[00:20:09.930]away from the nearest reservation.
[00:20:11.990]And they saw this as an effective way
[00:20:14.230]to sever the children's ties to their families, communities,
[00:20:17.880]and cultures, and thus to assimilate them.
[00:20:21.720]Upon arrival, school officials force children
[00:20:24.788]to have their hair cut, give up their Native dress
[00:20:27.750]and wear uniforms.
[00:20:29.260]And they forbid the children from speaking their languages.
[00:20:32.900]I have to give you an aside and just say,
[00:20:35.265]it's so thrilling to hear three Native languages
[00:20:38.580]being spoken tonight and to know that despite this assault
[00:20:43.190]on Native cultures, that Indigenous People
[00:20:45.940]have persisted and they've their languages alive.
[00:20:49.840]Genoa, like other boarding schools
[00:20:51.930]was run on Pratt's military model.
[00:20:54.670]Students were divided into military companies
[00:20:57.680]based on their age and gender and they had to participate
[00:21:01.060]in marching and drills every day.
[00:21:04.220]Students learned reading, writing and arithmetic
[00:21:07.530]only in the morning, in the afternoon, they were required
[00:21:11.510]to attend vocational training or labor for the school,
[00:21:15.300]or work for local families.
[00:21:17.780]And boys engaged primarily in agricultural work
[00:21:20.870]and some trades while girls did domestic work.
[00:21:25.110]And students did a lot of labor at the school.
[00:21:27.360]They grew and prepared the food.
[00:21:29.180]They did the laundry, they made their own uniforms.
[00:21:32.500]They even built employee housing.
[00:21:34.970]This was important training, but it was also
[00:21:37.953]incredibly exploitative and it was child labor.
[00:21:41.840]The government only allocated $167 per year
[00:21:45.870]for Indian students, which was far below
[00:21:47.900]what they compensated states for non-Indian
[00:21:50.670]students in this era.
[00:21:53.570]Genoa closed in 1934, the federal government
[00:21:57.380]deeded its land and buildings to the State of Nebraska,
[00:22:00.790]which used it as a penal colony until 1944.
[00:22:05.650]In 1949 the state gave the site to UNL for a seed farm.
[00:22:10.760]UNL proceeded to raise or raze,
(Dr. Jacobs chuckles)
[00:22:15.440]raze or auction off most of its buildings and lands.
[00:22:19.960]In 1990 volunteers in the City of Genoa
[00:22:25.150]established the Genoa US Indian School Foundation.
[00:22:28.450]And they raised money to buy the manual trading building
[00:22:32.200]in order to create a museum and interpretive center.
[00:22:36.640]This building is on the National Register
[00:22:38.690]of Historic Places, and you can visit it today
[00:22:41.060]and I'd really encourage you to do that.
[00:22:43.780]The foundation has been working to make Genoa
[00:22:46.507]and the interpretive center and museum
[00:22:50.110]a real place of healing.
[00:22:51.970]They have sponsored the unions of attendees
[00:22:54.420]and their families since 1990.
[00:22:57.290]And we work really closely with them
[00:22:59.190]on the Genoa Indian School, Digital Reconciliation Project,
[00:23:04.330]40 Tribal Nations have sent flags
[00:23:06.680]to the foundation's interpretive center
[00:23:08.820]to represent their children.
[00:23:11.530]So we started a digital project for the Genoa School
[00:23:14.360]in 2018 and we'll return to talking a little bit more
[00:23:18.110]about what that has entailed,
[00:23:19.990]but first we want to hear from Judi gaiashkibos
[00:23:23.090]and Dr. Mitchell about what Genoa has meant
[00:23:25.840]to their ancestors who attended,
[00:23:27.790]their families and their communities.
[00:23:38.990]You know, my mother attended Genoa.
[00:23:43.020]And when she was at the age of 10 years of age
[00:23:45.900]from 1911 to 1914, my mother was an orphan.
[00:23:52.160]Her mother died at the age of 19 or 20
[00:23:56.260]in the City of Omaha from diabetes and her father
[00:24:01.040]who was half-breed couldn't take care of her.
[00:24:03.680]So she was raised by her grandparents.
[00:24:06.410]In our Omaha culture, when you're an orphan,
[00:24:09.182]you're probably one of the most pitiful person
[00:24:14.867]within the tribe, and from what my mother told me
[00:24:19.590]that her grandfather, Spafford Woodhull,
[00:24:23.470]wanted her to try and get an education.
[00:24:26.620]So she was sent to Genoa.
[00:24:30.750]My mother attended three boarding schools
[00:24:33.070]throughout her young days in life.
[00:24:36.260]She went to Genoa, like I said, from 1911 to 1914,
[00:24:40.380]from 1914 to 1917 she went to Carlisle Indian School
[00:24:45.070]in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and from 1917 to 18,
[00:24:49.600]she went to Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kansas.
[00:24:53.584]In all these years my mother raised
[00:24:55.240]eight of us children by herself.
[00:24:57.080]My father was an alcoholic and she divorced him
[00:24:59.470]when I was about three or four.
[00:25:01.020]So I never knew my father, but my mother never shared
[00:25:05.680]any of the negative things that went on in the school.
[00:25:09.250]She talked very little about it,
[00:25:10.520]and I don't know why we never did really question her,
[00:25:13.010]you know why she did speak some of the good things
[00:25:16.600]that actually at Carlisle, she really enjoyed
[00:25:20.770]going to school there, but getting back to Genoa,
[00:25:23.940]she did share a couple of stories there.
[00:25:26.200]She said that when the Omaha Indian children
[00:25:30.030]arrived at Genoa, they were all young.
[00:25:33.670]When they would gather together,
[00:25:35.070]they would speak their Omaha language together.
[00:25:38.330]And if they were caught, the staff at the boarding school
[00:25:45.243]would wash their mouth out with soap.
[00:25:47.170]So that discouraged them from speaking the Omaha language,
[00:25:50.750]she said, and she said that she was always hungry.
[00:25:54.980]And she said she could never eat fast enough
[00:25:57.420]at the dining hall.
[00:26:00.300]And she told her one story where in the morning
[00:26:03.574]she said they were having biscuits and gravy
[00:26:05.060]and she couldn't finish the biscuits and gravy.
[00:26:09.830]So she slipped them down her dress
[00:26:11.850]to take them back to the room so she could eat them later
[00:26:15.100]because they were on a timeframe where they only had
[00:26:18.300]certain time to eat and then they had to do other things.
[00:26:21.540]But she shared that with us.
[00:26:23.358]Another thing which I thought was real sad,
[00:26:26.560]she said the Omaha children would all gather
[00:26:30.220]when they were not in school or doing chores or detail.
[00:26:34.980]They used call work detail in lots of boarding schools.
[00:26:38.780]She said they would gather at the railroad tracks,
[00:26:41.460]all of them, and they would talk among themselves
[00:26:44.250]and they'd look east back towards the reservation
[00:26:47.790]and stand there and cry.
[00:26:49.240]She said that they wanted to go home,
[00:26:51.750]but it was too far away for them to go home.
[00:26:54.490]But she said it was very difficult, very hard
[00:27:00.360]at Genoa to adapt, you know?
[00:27:02.330]And she said a lot of the young people just suffered
[00:27:06.900]lot of emotional abuse there as far as being away from home.
[00:27:12.610]But I wanted to share that with you as far as,
[00:27:14.590]I think my mother could have shared more.
[00:27:18.050]I do want to share more on in the sixties of what happened,
[00:27:21.831]but I'll let Judi talk a little bit more about her mother.
[00:27:26.230]But we were both saying it's fortunate
[00:27:29.441]that our mothers survived.
[00:27:31.700]Otherwise we wouldn't be here today.
[00:27:33.821]'Cause after hearing all the horror stories
[00:27:37.500]of what went on in Canada about all the young children
[00:27:40.430]dying up there and probably at all the other schools too,
[00:27:45.760]we're fortunate to be here today.
[00:27:48.230]But I'll share a little bit.
[00:27:49.920]I went to a boarding school, and I'll share
[00:27:52.200]some of my experiences at a boarding school I went to,
[00:27:55.800]but I'll let Judi share some things right now.
[00:28:00.310]Thank you, Dr. Rudi.
[00:28:02.860]There's so much to say.
[00:28:04.423]I don't really know where to begin,
[00:28:06.730]but I guess I'll start kind of go back to the beginning
[00:28:10.090]and talk a bit about my grandfather, who was the last Chief
[00:28:14.640]of the second rank of the Ponca tribe.
[00:28:17.030]And he was born in 1878.
[00:28:20.070]And you heard that the Carlisle School was the first
[00:28:23.900]boarding school built in 1879.
[00:28:27.450]And for me, I think of life a lot
[00:28:30.710]in the context of my tribal history.
[00:28:33.410]So Standing Bear, the Ponca Chief, the trial of 1879,
[00:28:39.720]and that's when Carlisle was opening.
[00:28:42.154]we were forcibly removed and taken to Oklahoma.
[00:28:48.250]And I heard Dr. Jacobs say the Pawnee were exiled
[00:28:52.580]and that's sort of a sanitized version to me
[00:28:55.930]of forcibly removed.
[00:28:57.960]They had no choice. They didn't want to go.
[00:29:00.460]They had to go.
[00:29:01.860]And my dear friend, Dr. James Riding In
[00:29:04.590]who is a revered Pawnee elder, recently retired
[00:29:09.250]as a tenured professor at ASU.
[00:29:11.110]He co-chairs the Genoa Digitizing Project with us
[00:29:14.540]and he couldn't be here tonight.
[00:29:16.740]But I do wanna say a word of appreciation and thanks
[00:29:21.400]for James, his friendship all the years that I've known him.
[00:29:25.790]We were friends before I became
[00:29:27.420]the Director of the Indian Commission.
[00:29:29.130]And one time we were back at a reunion at Genoa
[00:29:32.797]and he said, we were at my dear friend of mine
[00:29:36.590]that lives there, Anne Burke's home.
[00:29:39.240]She lives on a big ranch and we spent the night
[00:29:42.170]at her home and James said that was first time
[00:29:44.170]he'd been on Pawnee Homelands because
[00:29:47.257]the Pawnees were forced out of there.
[00:29:50.207]So what I'd like to say is, I hope not too harsh,
[00:29:55.000]but sometimes the truth is harsh.
[00:29:59.020]And the boarding schools for Indians
[00:30:01.050]really had a hidden agenda.
[00:30:02.840]And that was to steal the land.
[00:30:05.550]90 million acres of land that were taken from us.
[00:30:10.100]And so at the time of the Dawes Act of 1887,
[00:30:14.585]that's when the government systematically decided
[00:30:18.700]that the best way to free up all the land
[00:30:21.340]was to divide the land.
[00:30:23.350]So my grandmother and my great-grandmother,
[00:30:29.867]my grandfather's mother and my grandfather's brother,
[00:30:34.220]they were given some of the first allotments
[00:30:37.020]along the Niobrara right up the river from Standing Bear.
[00:30:42.470]I have a map in my dining room that shows that.
[00:30:45.150]And so Standing Bear died in 1908.
[00:30:50.130]My grandfather was 30 years old at the time
[00:30:52.350]that Standing Bear died to kind of
[00:30:53.680]give you guys a timeline here.
[00:30:55.990]So we got this land, but today our family
[00:31:00.770]doesn't have that land.
[00:31:02.040]It's all gone.
[00:31:03.110]The Ponca Tribe doesn't have that land.
[00:31:05.120]We are slowly buying back the land.
[00:31:08.090]And as you know, our story, not only were we
[00:31:11.620]forcibly removed and Standing Bear, the trial,
[00:31:14.320]we became recognized for the first time as humans,
[00:31:17.580]not citizens, when my mother was born
[00:31:19.710]and Dr. Rudi's mother, we weren't citizens.
[00:31:22.860]They weren't citizens of the United States of America,
[00:31:25.110]just like Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte
[00:31:28.090]wasn't a citizen, even at the time of her death.
[00:31:31.531]So, I might have lost my thought here
[00:31:36.850](Ms. Gaiashkibos guffaws)
gonna to try to get back
[00:31:38.600]on task here.
[00:31:41.520]Going back to that time period,
[00:31:44.070]my mother had seven sisters and a brother.
[00:31:48.500]There were nine children and my grandmother,
[00:31:50.850]my Santee Sioux grandmother, I'm enrolled Ponca,
[00:31:53.930]but I'm Santee.
[00:31:55.180]My grandmother, she didn't have to go away
[00:31:58.460]to boarding school.
[00:31:59.293]She went to the Santee Normal Training School
[00:32:02.370]that was located on the Santee lands.
[00:32:04.760]And that was less detrimental to her culture.
[00:32:08.220]She was at the school during the day
[00:32:10.340]and got to be at home at night.
[00:32:11.990]And so my grandmother who lived with,
[00:32:14.660]in my home until she died at the age of 86,
[00:32:18.410]I shared a room with my grandmother and my sisters
[00:32:21.300]and I have 10 brothers and sisters.
[00:32:23.197]My grandmother was a fluent speaker of her language.
[00:32:26.200]She did not have that beaten out of her
[00:32:28.880]as many of our people did at the Genoa Indian School.
[00:32:33.040]So while my mother was there, her two sisters,
[00:32:36.790]my mother was the eldest and they went there,
[00:32:38.940]partly because they would have starved if they didn't.
[00:32:42.090]And as Susana said, they threatened our people.
[00:32:47.490]If you didn't send your children,
[00:32:48.780]you wouldn't get your ration.
[00:32:50.050]So parents were really left with no recourse.
[00:32:53.120]What could you do?
[00:32:53.953]So they thought by sending the children there,
[00:32:56.380]they were at least giving them an opportunity to be fed
[00:32:59.770]and also to get an education.
[00:33:01.870]So half the day they learned the three Rs
[00:33:04.923]and the other half of the day,
[00:33:06.750]they learned how to do a trade
[00:33:08.940]because it was a self-sufficient school.
[00:33:11.277]And my mother was one of those people.
[00:33:13.730]She was, let's see, I don't know
[00:33:17.260]if I wanna use the word slave.
[00:33:19.240]She learned how to bake. She worked in the kitchen.
[00:33:22.710]You had to learn everything. She wasn't a good seamstress.
[00:33:26.380]They were very, very harsh and rigid on the children.
[00:33:29.690]And if you didn't do a good job of sewing
[00:33:33.559]the clothing that you wore, you were punished for that.
[00:33:37.674]Luckily, my mother was good at baking
[00:33:40.241]and she made the bread, et cetera.
[00:33:43.320]And that's what she did until a week before she died
[00:33:45.900]to support my brothers and sisters.
[00:33:49.570]I grew up first-generation off-reservation in Norfolk,
[00:33:52.510]Nebraska, and my mother moved there
[00:33:54.500]with my grandmother before I was born.
[00:33:57.370]And she cooked and baked in different cafes,
[00:34:00.610]all of her life.
[00:34:01.990]So like Dr. Rudi said many of the students,
[00:34:05.248]my mother and her two sisters didn't get to be
[00:34:08.440]in the same room because they would have
[00:34:09.940]communicated in their languages.
[00:34:11.910]So they were separated and separated from their parents.
[00:34:15.560]So they were missing out on learning about
[00:34:18.410]what it's like to be a family.
[00:34:21.010]And they also couldn't be with their own language speakers.
[00:34:24.940]That was a way to kill the Indian and destroy the language.
[00:34:30.300]And that was really, really sad and harmful to our people.
[00:34:35.150]Like my grandmother, she didn't have to do that.
[00:34:37.750]So however, they didn't succeed.
[00:34:41.770]My mother went back home to the reservation
[00:34:45.640]and she became elected to the tribal council.
[00:34:49.800]When white women weren't doing that in America.
[00:34:53.710]Women didn't have the right to vote
[00:34:55.360]and didn't get to do a lot of things.
[00:34:57.410]When my mother went back home,
[00:34:59.340]she and I learned this after she died.
[00:35:01.500]I did not know that she did that because I think
[00:35:04.572]I look at the soldiers, I call these little children.
[00:35:09.720]This was the last Indian War fought in America,
[00:35:12.730]using our children to kill the Indians and free more land.
[00:35:19.110]So my mother got to go back home and she didn't die.
[00:35:25.160]She made it out of there, but she did go home with PTSD.
[00:35:28.970]And she did go home with deciding not to tell us
[00:35:33.180]all those painful stories and protect her children
[00:35:37.360]from what she had to go through.
[00:35:39.740]And she tried to always teach us to take the best
[00:35:43.500]and leave the rest-philosophy.
[00:35:46.230]And she did learn some good things at the school.
[00:35:48.640]And that's partly why she survived.
[00:35:50.577]She was able to survive the beatings and the lack of food,
[00:35:55.190]being hungry, wearing clothes that were uncomfortable,
[00:35:59.553]hairstyle that you weren't used to.
[00:36:02.410]You didn't get to sit in a circle and sing and talk
[00:36:05.160]to your relatives like they were so used to doing at home.
[00:36:09.370]And so she, they chose not to tell us a lot of the painful,
[00:36:15.250]just like soldiers, today's Veterans Day.
[00:36:18.150]Soldiers go to war, they see horrible things.
[00:36:21.296]And my mother saw I'm sure maybe her sisters
[00:36:25.498]being beaten and others.
[00:36:27.560]And when you see others harmed, that's even more harmful
[00:36:31.170]than being beaten yourself, oftentimes.
[00:36:34.130]So I have really mixed feelings.
[00:36:38.370]I wish my mother would have told me more,
[00:36:41.930]but I was 19 when my mother died.
[00:36:44.130]And you just don't ask questions to your elders.
[00:36:46.970]In our culture, we respect our elders.
[00:36:49.840]My grandmother, she told me more because
[00:36:51.830]she lived longer and she wasn't as damaged
[00:36:55.220]by her life experience as my mother was.
[00:36:58.210]So I think we have a lot of Native people in America
[00:37:01.797]that are walking wounded warriors.
[00:37:05.430]And I see myself as a survivor of that.
[00:37:09.280]And every day I just cannot believe that I'm alive.
[00:37:15.640]And I'm so thankful that I get to do the work that I do.
[00:37:18.400]And I'm dedicated and committed to serving
[00:37:21.460]the rest of my life, to find those children that are missing
[00:37:25.020]at Genoa and do something good with the harm
[00:37:28.300]and the pain that happened there.
[00:37:30.000]And I have a lot of ideas,
[00:37:31.970]but I don't want to dominate the panel here.
[00:37:34.640]So I'm going to turn this back over.
[00:37:36.520]And I have a beautiful poem that I wanna read,
[00:37:38.780]if we have time that my friend Suzan Shown Harjo sent to me,
[00:37:42.543]I emailed her today and her great-great-grandmother
[00:37:46.410]went to the Shinoa Indian School.
[00:37:48.340]So I communicate and said, "I'm going to be on this panel."
[00:37:52.174]"Do you have any good advice?"
[00:37:53.010]She sent me this poem. She said I could read it.
[00:37:55.280]And so if we have time, I will.
[00:37:57.220]And if we don't, I'll have it posted somewhere
[00:37:59.220]that you can all see it because it really,
[00:38:01.720]Suzanne's a beautiful writer and a brilliant woman.
[00:38:04.840]And she says some things that Dr. Rudi and I want to say,
[00:38:08.740]in a more eloquent way.
[00:38:10.370]So with that...
[00:38:13.964]Yeah, I'm going to share with you, you know, my mother,
[00:38:18.400]when she went to Carlisle Indian School
[00:38:21.060]from 1914 to 1917, she really liked the school there.
[00:38:27.327]My mother must have talents cause they taught her
[00:38:29.790]how to sing and play the piano there.
[00:38:32.850]And she was even offered a chance
[00:38:35.010]to go to the Julliard School of Music.
[00:38:38.050]And I used to tell my mother, I said,
[00:38:39.547]"Mom, just think if you went there?"
[00:38:41.560]I said, "You would probably married a non-Indian."
[00:38:44.037]"You'd probably been in society."
[00:38:45.660]And she looked at me long time.
[00:38:47.020]She said, "Oh dear!"
[00:38:48.520]She said, "I would never had all your children, then,"
[00:38:52.745]For some reason she liked Carlisle.
[00:38:57.200]I think they were good to her,
[00:38:59.130]but in between the lines, when she would talk,
[00:39:02.970]I could see some things, you know,
[00:39:04.283]when she was what they called sent out
[00:39:07.040]during the summer months when they weren't in school,
[00:39:09.410]to live with families.
[00:39:11.040]And I think they probably served as servants
[00:39:14.650]and to non-Indian families out there.
[00:39:17.670]They only got like $4 to $5 a month
[00:39:20.500]for working for the non-Indian families.
[00:39:24.190]But she said she tried to save up the money
[00:39:27.020]so she could come back home to Nebraska
[00:39:29.950]during the holidays and all this.
[00:39:32.110]But I, and like Judi was saying, with our elders,
[00:39:36.850]I'm an elder now, and we'd never questioned our elders.
[00:39:39.830]We never asked them, "Why this, why that?"
[00:39:42.510]And all that, I wish my mother would have said more
[00:39:47.420]as far as what really went on.
[00:39:50.150]I'm gonna share, just this past week, I interviewed
[00:39:54.400]a young lady that, well, she's not young,
[00:39:57.080]she's in her sixties now,
[00:39:58.750]but she went to a religious boarding school
[00:40:02.210]during her grade school and high school.
[00:40:04.959]But I'll share briefly with you.
[00:40:06.970]I went to Haskell Institute.
[00:40:08.840]It was a high school for Native American people.
[00:40:13.353]What I was a freshman going into become a freshman
[00:40:17.570]in Hastings on the reservation in Northeast Nebraska,
[00:40:20.677]our high school burned down.
[00:40:22.880]So we had to go through to a nearby town.
[00:40:24.900]And that was Winnebago, the Winnebago Tribe.
[00:40:27.110]And I just didn't feel comfortable going there
[00:40:30.610]as far as being an outsider or a stepchild.
[00:40:34.480]So I talked to the Buro, the Buro of Education person there.
[00:40:38.440]I said, "I want to go to Haskell, in Lawrence, Kansas,
[00:40:42.686]because I wanted to get a better education."
[00:40:44.400]I had dreams of going to college.
[00:40:47.730]I was turned down the first year,
[00:40:49.300]the school would not accept me because they were only
[00:40:52.000]accepting students from Oklahoma and from the Southwest.
[00:40:55.970]People, students, tribes from Nebraska.
[00:40:58.430]We're supposed to go to Flandreau, South Dakota
[00:41:00.770]to another boarding school up there.
[00:41:02.500]And I didn't want to go up there.
[00:41:04.800]So in my sophomore year at Winnebago
[00:41:08.030]I told the education officer, I said,
[00:41:11.117]"I'm gonna quit school if you don't send me to Haskell's."
[00:41:13.865]And he managed to get me in for late enrollment in October.
[00:41:19.001]And wow, when I think about this now,
[00:41:21.670]I don't know how I ever did it.
[00:41:23.120]I'd never did travel outside of the reservation.
[00:41:26.360]I had been always just on the reservation.
[00:41:28.930]She took me down to Lawrence, Kansas to Haskell,
[00:41:33.470]and it was really a culture shock to me,
[00:41:37.070]to be away from home.
[00:41:38.650]I remember she stayed overnight on that next day,
[00:41:40.740]she was going to leave and I was in the dormitory
[00:41:43.320]I looked out the window and I saw my mother.
[00:41:45.750]She was going towards catching the city bus
[00:41:47.700]to catch their bus, to come back to Nebraska.
[00:41:51.600]And I ran down the stairs to try and catch her,
[00:41:53.900]cause that I wanted to go home.
[00:41:55.250]I don't like it here, but I couldn't catch her time.
[00:41:59.050]And she was gone and I thought, "Oh, well,
[00:42:01.880]I guess I'm gonna have to to stay."
[00:42:03.487]But you know, my three years at Haskell,
[00:42:06.476]there was no physical or mental abuse,
[00:42:09.440]anything of that type, there was something
[00:42:11.820]like 1200 students who are close to a thousand
[00:42:14.950]in high school, close to 100 different tribes.
[00:42:17.613]I made a lot of friends.
[00:42:19.145]You know nowadays, you hear about high school students,
[00:42:22.360]all the social ills that go on, drinking, smoking, drugs,
[00:42:26.920]and all that, nothing like that ever happened at Haskell.
[00:42:31.070]Nobody drank, nobody smoked on campus.
[00:42:33.340]We all got along good. I made really good friends.
[00:42:38.081]There are students from Oklahoma and I still remember
[00:42:40.450]a lot of them and all that,
[00:42:41.800]but I finished high school there.
[00:42:44.030]The only thing that I regret as far as attending school,
[00:42:46.850]there was, I wanted to go into medicine.
[00:42:49.320]I had dreams of becoming a medical doctor.
[00:42:52.040]They didn't teach chemistry there.
[00:42:53.929]And even when I was taking
[00:42:56.030]one of the American History courses,
[00:42:57.760]I thought, "I wonder why they're not
[00:42:59.180]teaching us Native American History?"
[00:43:01.933]Where's all the tribes that were they're involved
[00:43:05.610]in different parts of this country and all this, you know,
[00:43:09.000]but nothing was taught in high school,
[00:43:11.358]as far as Native American History or what's going on.
[00:43:15.560]But I wanted to share that with you.
[00:43:18.552]I'm going to share, like I said,
[00:43:23.534]I interviewed a, she's an elderly lady now,
[00:43:27.800]and I'm not going to sugar coat what she told me.
[00:43:30.674]To me, it was kind of shocking.
[00:43:32.650]In a religious school for children,
[00:43:36.576]she attended school there.
[00:43:39.100]She said that when they did anything wrong or bad,
[00:43:43.250]the staff people would slap their hands with a ruler
[00:43:48.010]or slap them on side the face with a ruler.
[00:43:50.580]They were small.
[00:43:52.248]She said they couldn't speak their language.
[00:43:55.290]Sometimes they were punished like three to five hours.
[00:43:58.710]They had to kneel on the cement floor or tile floor.
[00:44:03.740]And she said she got blisters from the three to five hours
[00:44:06.550]that they had to kneel there on the floor
[00:44:08.850]for being punished.
[00:44:10.650]And she said a lot of the young boys
[00:44:13.880]that tried to run away, when they brought them back,
[00:44:16.550]they would cut their hair.
[00:44:18.310]And they were put in between two lines, the boys,
[00:44:20.780]and then the other boys had straps.
[00:44:23.210]They would strap them as they ran through that line
[00:44:26.231]punishment for, you know, for running away.
[00:44:30.918]And she said, you know, even in why she was in high school
[00:44:34.090]at the house or at the religious group,
[00:44:36.170]that punishment still existed and this was in the sixties.
[00:44:39.830]And I couldn't believe, you know, this was still going on.
[00:44:42.230]You hear about what happened in the late 1800s,
[00:44:45.640]as far as in the boarding schools,
[00:44:47.620]but in the sixties, it still went on.
[00:44:51.580]Today I'm appalled that some of the religious institutions,
[00:44:56.680]the US Government, how they treated us people, you know,
[00:45:00.320]no apologies, no reconciliation, as far as,
[00:45:04.427]"We're sorry we did this to you and all this,"
[00:45:07.770]we live with this what they call historical trauma today,
[00:45:11.010]as a result of that, I even think back way
[00:45:15.250]before the boarding school, was how
[00:45:17.522]my Omaha Indian People and Northeast Nebraska
[00:45:20.391]were given blankets that were infested with smallpox.
[00:45:25.255]And at one time when the smallpox epidemic
[00:45:29.070]hit the Omaha Tribe, we were a number down
[00:45:31.000]to 300, 400 people, today we're roughly around 7,000.
[00:45:36.400]So we survived somehow by God's grace.
[00:45:39.570]But you know what happened to a lot of Native American
[00:45:43.760]Tribes, not only here in Nebraska,
[00:45:45.720]but throughout the United States just, you know,
[00:45:48.645]really shocking to hear.
[00:45:52.590]I wish there was more Native people sitting out there
[00:45:55.040]to hear what I'm sharing with you
[00:45:58.150]because today a lot of Native people
[00:46:00.010]don't share these stories as they talk among themselves
[00:46:04.070]as to what went on at the boarding schools.
[00:46:08.760]But I wanted to share that with you today,
[00:46:10.830]you know, that happened.
[00:46:12.540]I was really kind of shocked when this lady told me
[00:46:16.030]what had gone on.
[00:46:18.030]I'm sure there was probably sexual abuse that went on,
[00:46:20.610]but she didn't talk anything about the sexual abuse,
[00:46:24.610]but I wanted y'all to know that and I can say it,
[00:46:28.279]I'm glad I'm here.
[00:46:29.892]I want to show it, tell you, what really happened
[00:46:32.820]to our Indian children at various boarding schools.
[00:46:38.540]I wanted to say that Dr. Rudi's Mother
[00:46:41.650]was in a documentary done by NET back in the 70s
[00:46:45.830]and so there were two documentaries done.
[00:46:48.290]I think it was "In the White Man's Image,"
[00:46:50.420]and in maybe, "In the White Man's Way."
[00:46:53.070]So it isn't as though Nebraska didn't have access to this.
[00:46:57.160]So why is it that today so few people
[00:47:00.420]still don't know what happened in Nebraska.
[00:47:04.130]And I really think it's time to tell these stories
[00:47:08.620]and tell the truth and I always go back to,
[00:47:12.840]all the young girls and boys in America
[00:47:15.300]learn about Anne Frank and the atrocities
[00:47:18.080]of what happened in Germany.
[00:47:20.383]But it hasn't been something that we want to tell here
[00:47:26.770]about what happened in America.
[00:47:29.010]And so that's one of the things that I wanna see happen.
[00:47:32.050]And I'm going to work hard to find a way
[00:47:34.698]that these stories can become told so the young
[00:47:37.880]boys and girls, all children can learn
[00:47:40.480]what happened in our country
[00:47:41.950]and that our Native children can feel a sense of pride,
[00:47:45.670]that they are survivors, we are resilient people
[00:47:48.740]and Dr. Rudi's mother and my mother,
[00:47:52.220]and all those people didn't suffer needlessly.
[00:47:55.570]And we're here to carry on.
[00:47:57.050]And Dr. Rudi is a counselor, and I think that's
[00:48:00.180]probably a lot to do with helping heal.
[00:48:03.470]And we're here to talk about healing.
[00:48:05.842]And I think because of America having for the first time
[00:48:10.108]a Native American woman, as Secretary of the Interior,
[00:48:13.660]that the light has been shown on this topic,
[00:48:18.330]otherwise it would still be, we are invisible.
[00:48:21.660]Out of sight, out of mind, we're not
[00:48:23.330]going to talk about this,
[00:48:24.830]but secretary Deb Haaland who I had the honor
[00:48:28.150]to testify in front of when she was a Congresswoman
[00:48:31.550]about the Standing Bear Trial,
[00:48:33.566]she has prioritized this.
[00:48:35.540]And so that brings us here today as the Co-chair
[00:48:39.750]of the Genoa Digitizing Reconciliation Project.
[00:48:42.890]We were a bit ahead of the curve three years ago,
[00:48:45.270]as Dr. Jacobs said, we started doing this work.
[00:48:48.952]Now we've got to do more and do better.
[00:48:54.380]And what are we going to do?
[00:48:55.956]And I think that's some of what we're
[00:48:58.020]going to talk a bit about today.
[00:49:01.530]I think people don't like to hear sad stories.
[00:49:05.000]People don't want to know about this. It isn't fun.
[00:49:10.320]We don't have a choice. This is our life.
[00:49:13.890]We can't just pretend it didn't happen.
[00:49:16.850]This is who we are as Indian People.
[00:49:20.240]And we can celebrate all the great things.
[00:49:24.690]My t-shirt today is from Indigenous People's Day
[00:49:27.280]that we had for the first time in Nebraska.
[00:49:29.880]And I think you saw evidence there
[00:49:32.350]that they did not kill the Indian,
[00:49:34.290]that the dance, song ceremonies are still alive.
[00:49:37.320]And we are still here.
[00:49:39.260]Too much of what is taught in the schools
[00:49:41.650]and the dumbing down.
[00:49:42.800]At Genoa, they were teaching us to be servants,
[00:49:46.420]not to be a doctor.
[00:49:48.710]We didn't have the potential or the wherewithal,
[00:49:52.930]so we can with the right support,
[00:49:56.870]be anything that anyone can be.
[00:49:59.530]And I will use my own daughters as an example
[00:50:02.550]of the arc of my mother, going to that school,
[00:50:05.510]to my eldest daughter is an attorney,
[00:50:07.860]went to Columbia Law School,
[00:50:09.290]and she practices Indian Law, Water Law.
[00:50:12.200]Yesterday she was on a documentary program
[00:50:15.900]at the US Capitol about Standing Bear.
[00:50:18.880]And so I think my mother would be pretty amazed
[00:50:22.385]to meet my daughter and the grandchildren.
[00:50:25.500]And Dr. Rudi has a very prolific family,
[00:50:28.460]Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, and that whole family,
[00:50:32.130]the trial, that Standing Bear trial
[00:50:34.300]was Dr. Susan's sister, Suzette.
[00:50:37.530]So those are the stories that need to be told
[00:50:39.920]and for all of us to learn.
[00:50:41.490]And our Indian children, especially
[00:50:43.540]so they can have positive role models.
[00:50:45.390]And we're not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves
[00:50:48.030]and continue to be victimized by this country.
[00:50:51.041]In America, it's a pretty white country.
[00:50:54.010]And if you don't want to, if you're not white,
[00:50:57.340]you're given a role and you better
[00:50:58.720]play the role you're given.
[00:51:00.130]Well, Dr. Rudi and I aren't going to play that role.
[00:51:02.981]We're going to say we are warrior women,
[00:51:06.920]and he was a warrior in Vietnam.
[00:51:09.980]So with that, I want to let Dr. Jacobs
[00:51:15.800]speak about our program, or someone else here?
[00:51:22.800]I wanna take a few minutes to introduce the work
[00:51:26.300]of the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project.
[00:51:29.810]And despite everything we've heard this evening
[00:51:33.520]about the history and impact of the schools,
[00:51:35.330]there remained two pretty remarkable facts and challenges.
[00:51:39.040]The first as we have heard appropriately,
[00:51:43.100]so repeatedly this evening is that many, many people
[00:51:46.310]still have no or limited awareness about that Genoa existed
[00:51:50.980]and the reality of the students
[00:51:52.097]and their families' experiences.
[00:51:54.370]The second fact, and challenge is the access
[00:51:56.700]to records related to Genoa is difficult.
[00:51:59.990]The largest number of records exist
[00:52:02.140]in only a handful of locations in the United States.
[00:52:05.710]All of which are hours or days travel
[00:52:08.200]from locations in Nebraska.
[00:52:10.000]And within those repositories,
[00:52:11.490]their records are challenging to find,
[00:52:13.700]and these are clearly connected challenges.
[00:52:16.370]The limited access to the documentary record
[00:52:18.950]continues to enable lack of awareness.
[00:52:21.140]Even though, as Judi has said, we have also
[00:52:23.860]been pretty willful in that lack of awareness,
[00:52:26.594]those of us who are white people and settlers,
[00:52:29.822]and both of those challenges,
[00:52:32.330]the lack of awareness and access to their record,
[00:52:35.540]are standing in the way of truth and reckoning.
[00:52:38.400]So in response to these challenges, a team of us,
[00:52:40.860]many of whom are represented here this evening,
[00:52:42.860]and many of whom are not came together to establish
[00:52:45.920]and develop the Genoa Indian School,
[00:52:48.010]Digital Reconciliation Project in 2018.
[00:52:51.190]The Genoa Project, firstname.lastname@example.org
[00:52:55.530]is a space for telling the stories
[00:52:57.210]of the American Indian children who attended Genoa,
[00:53:00.440]the stories of their communities and the stories
[00:53:02.790]of their descendants.
[00:53:04.070]We're first to digitizing government records from Genoa,
[00:53:07.190]from various federal and state archives,
[00:53:09.550]and hope that returning these records
[00:53:11.660]to American Indian families and tribes may be an act
[00:53:14.970]of archival reconciliation and of bringing history home.
[00:53:19.090]We aim also to support descendant communities
[00:53:21.770]in telling their stories of Genoa
[00:53:23.800]and to promote awareness truth-seeking
[00:53:26.050]about the boarding schools among all Americans.
[00:53:30.495]Let's see, let me jump ahead.
[00:53:36.120]Okay. So our team is steered by Community Advisors Council
[00:53:40.300]co-chaired by Judi gaiashkibos and James Riding In
[00:53:43.710]who are joined by representatives
[00:53:45.520]from the four tribes today, headquartered in Nebraska
[00:53:48.730]and partners on the project include
[00:53:50.620]the UNL College of Arts and Sciences
[00:53:52.800]and the UNL University Libraries,
[00:53:55.100]as well as the Genoa Foundation and Museum in Genoa,
[00:53:58.480]Nebraska about which Margaret spoke earlier.
[00:54:01.760]So even prior, and we want to underscore
[00:54:03.770]the work of the foundation and museum as well
[00:54:05.610]for even prior to the work of our Digital Reconciliation
[00:54:08.350]Project the foundation museum had had been working hard
[00:54:12.220]and continue to work hard to preserve the history
[00:54:14.240]of Genoa and its students through their care
[00:54:16.360]of the physical site and the hosting of reunions
[00:54:18.680]among other activities.
[00:54:21.110]To date the Genoa Digital Project Team has published
[00:54:24.240]nearly 3000 documents on our website
[00:54:27.010]with another 2-3000 documents yet to come.
[00:54:30.510]We present access to our materials through several
[00:54:33.750]topical areas shown here, and offset by the remarkable
[00:54:38.020]artwork of Winnebago artists, Henry Payer,
[00:54:40.830]who has been an artist in residence here
[00:54:42.900]at the Center for Great Plains Studies and who also
[00:54:45.260]designed the project's striking logo.
[00:54:47.968]Users can also search the documents to find records
[00:54:51.220]pertaining to specific individuals or by tribes.
[00:54:55.610]Each of the documents are richly described
[00:54:58.230]to account for every person named in the document
[00:55:00.940]and every variation of a person's name
[00:55:03.470]and to provide an overview of the document and its purpose.
[00:55:07.700]A team of nearly 20 individuals has worked through UNL
[00:55:10.810]to digitize and describe the materials and to develop
[00:55:13.630]the technical infrastructure,
[00:55:15.660]a full list of the team members both past and present
[00:55:18.580]is available on the project website.
[00:55:20.810]But this evening I want to credit,
[00:55:22.110]especially in addition to the folks here today,
[00:55:25.000]current team members, Nicole Gray, Daelyn Zagurski,
[00:55:28.550]Karin Dalziel, Katie Nieland, Greg Tunink and Gaby Mace.
[00:55:34.070]Now the pandemic slowed our work due to repository closures,
[00:55:37.666]but also allowed us to pivot into some new directions
[00:55:40.540]on the project, including a deepening partnership
[00:55:43.370]with the National Indian School, Digital Archive,
[00:55:47.000]or NIBSDA, NIBSDA is an initiative of the National Native
[00:55:51.580]American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
[00:55:54.400]And our project team is both serving in an advisory capacity
[00:55:57.770]to NIBSDA they build out the technical infrastructure
[00:56:00.780]and make decisions about a national digital archive
[00:56:04.483]And we are preparing our projects data for inclusion
[00:56:07.280]in NIBSDA under the guidance and with the approval
[00:56:10.430]of our community advisors.
[00:56:12.520]Participation in NIBSDA integrates the information
[00:56:15.510]we have prepared through the Genoa project
[00:56:17.780]with similar information related to other boarding schools
[00:56:20.640]from throughout the United States and we'll link
[00:56:23.130]users to the full content on the Genoa site.
[00:56:26.650]In addition to this work team members
[00:56:28.740]and an extended network of researchers
[00:56:31.060]have also been involved in other,
[00:56:33.085]especially critical and timely work.
[00:56:36.620]And that is what Margaret is going to speak about now.
[00:56:42.570]Thank you again.
[00:56:45.610]So these schools, as I hope you're gathering
[00:56:49.046]have left a very complex and often painful legacy
[00:56:52.440]for Indigenous People today.
[00:56:54.450]And similar institutions for children became the subject
[00:56:57.478]of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission
[00:57:01.010]and the Stolen Generations Inquiry in Australia.
[00:57:05.120]Both of those nations have given formal apologies
[00:57:08.440]and issued monetary reparations to survivors of the schools.
[00:57:13.608]Many of you I'm sure are aware that just this summer,
[00:57:17.070]First Nations People in Canada found mass unmarked graves
[00:57:21.260]at a number of residential school sites.
[00:57:24.510]First Nations People in Canada have been talking
[00:57:27.100]about these graves for many years.
[00:57:30.010]They had told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
[00:57:32.540]about them, but settlers had not believed them
[00:57:35.998]until ground penetrating radar confirmed
[00:57:38.686]that indeed the sites did have many mass graves.
[00:57:44.380]The United States has held no such investigation
[00:57:47.460]or public inquiry into our boarding schools.
[00:57:50.810]Some states, however, have made some efforts.
[00:57:54.327]Just a couple of weeks ago, the Governor of Wisconsin,
[00:57:58.230]Tony Evers apologized to his states Native peoples
[00:58:02.510]for the 11 boarding schools that existed in his state.
[00:58:06.144]The National Native American Boarding School Healing
[00:58:09.260]coalition that that Liz mentioned is working
[00:58:12.320]for a national reckoning with the schools.
[00:58:15.220]They have lobbied members of Congress
[00:58:17.150]and the Secretary of the Interior to investigate
[00:58:19.910]the schools and hold a truth and healing commission.
[00:58:22.924]As a result of their efforts representatives Sharice Davids
[00:58:28.130]of Kansas and Tom Cole a Republican of Oklahoma
[00:58:31.667]and Senator Elizabeth Warren have introduced a bill
[00:58:35.081]in both Houses of Congress calling for
[00:58:37.730]a Truth and Healing Commission around
[00:58:39.660]the Indian Boarding Schools and Secretary of Interior,
[00:58:43.380]Deb Haaland, herself a descendant
[00:58:46.580]of a boarding school survivor
[00:58:48.265]from Laguna Pueblo has called for an investigation
[00:58:52.830]into the schools, especially children's deaths
[00:58:55.640]and their burials in school cemeteries.
[00:58:59.540]So that has prompted us at the Genoa Project
[00:59:02.400]and at the Genoa Foundation and Museum in Genoa
[00:59:06.007]to do a very deep dive, into trying to find out
[00:59:12.130]what happened to the cemetery at Genoa
[00:59:15.260]and what happened to the children who died there
[00:59:17.860]and to try to identify all of them.
[00:59:20.220]So I'm going to turn it over to Judi again,
[00:59:22.500]to talk about that topic and kind of give you
[00:59:26.730]an update on that.
[00:59:29.290]Okay. This is kind of a painful part of my life.
[00:59:34.430]And as I have shared with Dr. Jacobs,
[00:59:37.427]when I come and do these things,
[00:59:39.420]it takes a while to go home and recover from sharing.
[00:59:43.630]You know, they say you leave it on the field,
[00:59:45.790]well this is our personal life stories.
[00:59:47.847]And this isn't intellectual academic research
[00:59:51.990]for Dr. Rudi and I.
[00:59:53.730]So a couple of years ago, when we were working
[00:59:56.160]on the project, I asked some hard questions.
[00:59:58.750]Did any of those children die of suicide?
[01:00:01.010]What are the records showing?
[01:00:02.818]We weren't getting very good answers and it's been
[01:00:06.770]a real challenge to find a hard evidence
[01:00:10.670]of what actually happened to the children.
[01:00:13.300]Going back to when I started going to the reunions
[01:00:16.050]30 years ago, I met so many wonderful living descendants
[01:00:20.110]and learned a lot about what my mother's
[01:00:21.860]experience was like through their stories.
[01:00:24.120]And there was a big stone outside that was
[01:00:26.820]a Memorial to those children that died there.
[01:00:29.370]And they had a plaque that had 19 children's names
[01:00:32.253]of children that we knew died at the school.
[01:00:35.210]Well, since then through research of Nancy Carlson,
[01:00:39.310]who runs the museum through her grad student and through
[01:00:43.795]Dr. Jacobs' student, I think is a grad student,
[01:00:48.750]the two of them have been doing a lot of research.
[01:00:51.180]And prior to today, we knew that there were an additional,
[01:00:55.540]I believe 59 to the original 19 and the causes of death...
[01:01:03.100]We've got it all in a spreadsheet
[01:01:04.860]and it tells the name of the child.
[01:01:06.730]And these children came from 40 different tribal nations.
[01:01:09.770]Some that died there were from the Black Feet of Montana,
[01:01:13.473]Winnebago all over the United States,
[01:01:16.367]but they all didn't get sent home when they died.
[01:01:20.680]We don't know where they are. They're missing an action.
[01:01:23.970]These little soldiers are buried somewhere
[01:01:26.880]and we're trying to find them.
[01:01:29.370]So that was pretty hard to absorb that,
[01:01:32.433]that there were more, I figured there were more
[01:01:36.610]and we used to ask, where is the cemetery
[01:01:39.330]when I'd go over there?
[01:01:41.409]And my daughters would go.
[01:01:42.242]And they said, "Well, they didn't really know."
[01:01:44.640]And I know it's really hard for the people that live there
[01:01:47.330]in that community, that's their home.
[01:01:49.540]So I want to say on behalf of all of those people,
[01:01:52.560]I respect my colleague friends that I've known
[01:01:55.730]for all these years, and they've seen my children grow up.
[01:01:58.960]So I want to say, they've been good partners
[01:02:01.700]and that this collaboration wouldn't be happening
[01:02:04.370]if it weren't for the support of the museum
[01:02:07.300]and the Genoa Indian School.
[01:02:09.430]I think that going forward yesterday or today,
[01:02:15.650]we found out that we have now I'm up to 102
[01:02:22.055]total children that we know died there,
[01:02:24.760]but we don't know where they are.
[01:02:26.597]So on Veterans Day, one of the things
[01:02:30.880]that our country prides ourselves in
[01:02:33.100]is always bringing our soldiers home.
[01:02:35.950]Whether it's 50 years later, a hundred years later,
[01:02:39.320]you see these stories in the paper that someone brought
[01:02:42.640]their soldier home and did honor them.
[01:02:45.850]And so that's what we wanna do.
[01:02:47.610]We want to find the cemetery and we've had
[01:02:50.842]in my official duties as the Director
[01:02:53.610]of the Indian Commission, I am responsible
[01:02:55.547]per the Nebraska State Law that protects human remains.
[01:03:00.290]Nebraska was the first state to enact a law,
[01:03:03.218]to protect our Native American human remains
[01:03:07.140]based on the Pawnee battle with the Historical Society.
[01:03:10.890]So Rob Bozell, the State Archeologist and I,
[01:03:13.690]that's our official job, to find those bodies.
[01:03:18.290]And so I'm here in that capacity as well
[01:03:21.630]as serving on the advisory.
[01:03:24.250]But Rob has gone out twice now and he has done
[01:03:29.528]ground penetrating radar with another specialist
[01:03:33.680]that does that.
[01:03:34.910]And we did it on one farm, the first farm,
[01:03:38.060]and we found no cemetery, no remains per the analysis
[01:03:44.920]that we got back just this last week on Monday,
[01:03:49.120]they went out again and they did the canal adjacent
[01:03:52.780]to the first farm and another farm.
[01:03:55.900]Again, from the initial findings,
[01:03:59.200]they couldn't find any differences in the soil, et cetera,
[01:04:03.280]that would lead you to believe that there were
[01:04:05.490]bodies under the ground.
[01:04:08.270]So now we know, as of today, Dr. Jacobs let me know,
[01:04:14.900]notified me that there were more.
[01:04:17.150]And boy, I think that's, we're going to hear more,
[01:04:22.686]that there are probably more, and I feel so sad.
[01:04:25.184]It's really heartbreaking and makes me feel so bad
[01:04:28.210]for those children that won't get to go to school
[01:04:31.270]and didn't get to have families
[01:04:32.770]and don't have grandchildren like I do.
[01:04:36.250]And we have to do better.
[01:04:39.010]Nebraska has to do better, and America, has to do better.
[01:04:41.990]And I don't think anything would be happening
[01:04:44.250]if it weren't for Secretary Haaland and this initiative,
[01:04:51.210]my colleague friend, Suzan Harjo,
[01:04:53.200]she has suggested that each of the schools we designated
[01:04:57.020]as a national Memorial Monument status
[01:05:00.130]and be given federal funding.
[01:05:02.820]So I think that Genoa and in Nebraska,
[01:05:06.810]there needs to be some money allocated to retell the story
[01:05:11.790]and not have it be a whitewashed candy-coated version,
[01:05:15.250]but tell the truth.
[01:05:16.540]And I also think there needs funding
[01:05:19.220]for language revitalization,
[01:05:22.260]because they were pretty successful
[01:05:25.040]in destroying our language.
[01:05:27.210]There aren't that many fluent speakers
[01:05:28.875]for many of the tribes.
[01:05:31.001]So that's one thing I think that we could really see
[01:05:33.839]as life-changing outcome, because your language is
[01:05:39.130]who you are, and those people that immigrated to America
[01:05:43.370]and left their language and chose to do that willingly
[01:05:47.070]at Ellis Island and onward, some didn't,
[01:05:50.010]and not having diverse languages, that's a good thing.
[01:05:54.270]And diversity is a good thing and respecting
[01:05:56.345]all of the different people in America.
[01:05:58.860]That's a beautiful thing.
[01:05:59.990]And that's why our men go to war,
[01:06:01.740]to protect this beautiful country.
[01:06:03.750]America is a wonderful, wonderful, beautiful place,
[01:06:07.000]but we don't want to be a cookie cutter America.
[01:06:11.750]I don't want to be an Indian of your imagination.
[01:06:15.440]I know who I am. I know who my people are.
[01:06:18.010]My relatives are.
[01:06:19.430]So I challenge all of you to learn your stories
[01:06:22.307]and to respect our stories and support our efforts
[01:06:25.930]and ask policy makers, "What can you do?"
[01:06:29.200]There's a lot you can do, all of you here.
[01:06:31.820]Your voice matters. You have more power than we do.
[01:06:35.860]You can call up or email your State Senator,
[01:06:38.810]the Governor, and say, "What is Nebraska going to do
[01:06:41.960]about those missing children?"
[01:06:44.420]If we're in any other place and you had a hundred children
[01:06:47.430]that were buried somewhere and you couldn't find them,
[01:06:49.720]I think would be on the front page of the New York Times.
[01:06:53.830]And you know, there's been this story going on
[01:06:56.060]with the young lady that sadly lost her life
[01:06:58.700]over in Wyoming.
[01:07:00.530]And the person that killed her was in Florida.
[01:07:03.690]All that focus on that one, beautiful white girl,
[01:07:07.740]but we have a lot of Indian women in Wyoming
[01:07:10.640]that went missing and murdered, Native women.
[01:07:13.260]And we continue to be dying and trafficked
[01:07:16.560]because we aren't valued as much.
[01:07:19.350]Our women of color are just dismissed as not as important
[01:07:24.780]as mainstream societies.
[01:07:27.050]So that's the reality of our country
[01:07:31.307]and you all can stand up and say,
[01:07:33.714]that's not a good thing that we want to do better.
[01:07:37.540]And we're going to stand with the women of color
[01:07:41.327]and all the people and do something here in Nebraska.
[01:07:44.570]So that's what I challenge you with to go out
[01:07:47.621]and do something that makes a difference
[01:07:51.010]that you can be proud of and leave a legacy that says,
[01:07:55.323]"I chose to not stay in the dark
[01:07:59.390]and the truth will set us free."
[01:08:06.724]Are we getting close to the end?
[01:08:09.730]Oh, we're overtime probably.
(Dr. Gaiashkibos chuckles)
[01:08:12.810]Susana, could Susana?
[01:08:15.420]Questions. Yes, Questions.
[01:08:20.300]I did my Master's program here and I was
[01:08:25.350]the only Native American student
[01:08:26.530]to go through in my cohort,
[01:08:29.147]in the graduate studies program.
[01:08:31.040]And when I wrote my Master's thesis, I spent, I don't know,
[01:08:36.620]like almost a year working on boarding schools.
[01:08:39.670]And I remember every night I cried,
[01:08:44.320]learning and just reading that stuff.
[01:08:46.930]And I'd go through that every night
[01:08:51.240]and then I'd come to school the next day.
[01:08:52.830]And then I would hear my peers talking about
[01:08:55.740]where they were going to have coffee the night,
[01:08:58.710]And it was really hard to try to connect
[01:09:01.311]and get back into that world.
[01:09:03.950]And I was pretty traumatized and it was
[01:09:05.920]really hurtful to go through that.
[01:09:07.340]And I'm a historian and being a Native American historian
[01:09:10.840]is really a painful thing to do, you know?
[01:09:13.470]I mean, because you have to learn all of that history.
[01:09:16.370]And I remember I had gotten to a point where,
[01:09:20.600]I needed to figure out a way how to reconcile
[01:09:23.160]with what I was doing and how I wanted to move forward
[01:09:27.070]as a Native American historian.
[01:09:29.209]I started working at the Digital Project here
[01:09:32.510]and I felt like, okay, I just need to find those stories
[01:09:37.640]of resilience, you know, and I needed
[01:09:39.730]to look at history in that way.
[01:09:41.840]And I got to a point where I felt like I just couldn't
[01:09:46.460]get away from boarding schools
[01:09:48.380]and even being working for the Digital Project,
[01:09:51.900]I'm going through these documents
[01:09:53.690]and I'm coming across my own family names
[01:09:56.170]and I'm coming across names of families of people I know.
[01:10:00.530]And it was just a really hard thing to do.
[01:10:02.780]And so, I resolved to myself that what my purpose was,
[01:10:07.810]was to help bring those stories to life
[01:10:13.620]because all of those little people,
[01:10:15.630]they need to have their stories heard.
[01:10:17.920]And so I think that's one of the reasons why
[01:10:22.240]I've really hung in there with this project.
[01:10:24.280]And I want to be able to talk about the project
[01:10:26.950]more here in a little bit, but it's a pretty great one.
[01:10:42.410]This is audience participation time.
[01:10:48.324](gentleman speaking softly)
[01:10:55.198]Could you repeat.
[01:10:56.240]Certainly, when were the first Native American students
[01:10:59.320]allowed into the University of Nebraska
[01:11:01.150]and to create a university?
[01:11:10.250]I can say about UNL.
[01:11:11.670]I don't know that there was any effort to bar
[01:11:15.690]Native students, but I recently met a man
[01:11:19.130]named Richard Williams, who's Lakota and Cheyenne.
[01:11:22.380]He lives in Denver and he was the first Native student
[01:11:25.850]to graduate from UNL, I believe in 1975.
[01:11:30.010]So that gives you an idea of, yeah.
[01:11:34.100]You know, my second year in college was here
[01:11:36.550]at the UNL campus.
[01:11:39.380]That was in 1959.
[01:11:44.386]I had transferred from Dana College in Blair.
[01:11:48.860]Cause I couldn't get no scholarship funding
[01:11:50.910]'cause it was a church school.
[01:11:52.400]So I had to go to a state supported university.
[01:11:54.640]So I came down here.
[01:11:57.840]It was interesting to come down because like myself
[01:12:01.390]going to a boarding school,
[01:12:02.243]then coming to an all white institution
[01:12:04.560]was another culture shock.
[01:12:06.920]You know, I joined the marching band.
[01:12:08.500]I was very fortunate in high school.
[01:12:10.640]I played tenor sax and I was accepted
[01:12:12.930]into the marching band here.
[01:12:14.156]But while I was in there, I looked around
[01:12:16.670]and there was like several hundred band members.
[01:12:19.780]I was the only dark skin person there.
[01:12:22.360]Civil Rights was even passed when I was going school here.
[01:12:26.210]So that shows at that time, maybe I was
[01:12:29.110]just a tokenism person and all this or whatever.
[01:12:32.610]I've always wondered throughout the years,
[01:12:34.760]you know what happened at that time?
[01:12:38.137]Somehow I got to be a part of that marching band,
[01:12:41.574]but you know, I taught at Creighton, I retired in 2013,
[01:12:46.301]as far as I know, there was no barriers.
[01:12:48.730]As far as students going to school to church in here.
[01:12:52.267]Creighton is a very expensive school.
[01:12:55.530]Native People can't afford to go there.
[01:12:57.840]A lot of these students are from upper-middle-class families
[01:13:01.530]that attend school there, but we're not,
[01:13:03.800]I'm just going to briefly share something.
[01:13:05.420]When I was teaching 99% of the non-Indian students
[01:13:10.010]that I had in my class, I had 40 students in my class,
[01:13:12.950]knew nothing about Native Americans.
[01:13:15.410]I would say, write on the sheet of paper
[01:13:17.170]what you know about Native Americans.
[01:13:19.010]They'd write either none, saw them in movies, maybe on TV,
[01:13:23.470]but it was just mostly nothing that they knew about.
[01:13:26.490]So I had to start from ground zero and teaching
[01:13:29.413]two classes there at Creighton, but I enjoyed it.
[01:13:32.470]If I was younger, I'd have stayed,
[01:13:33.653]but I want to retire and become lazy.
Are there questions?
[01:13:42.419]I was just going to ask...
[01:13:55.920]Yeah, that's very true. I forgot to mention that.
[01:13:58.470]There's a question here, and then on the back.
[01:14:04.010]How did they reunite
[01:14:05.280]the children with the families
[01:14:06.790]and were the families accepting the kids
[01:14:10.150]to come back to their home?
[01:14:12.980]I think it varied from child to child
[01:14:15.260]and there is no exact boarding school experience.
[01:14:19.970]Everyone just like, we all are unique human beings.
[01:14:22.540]So that said the children that stayed the longest
[01:14:26.770]and didn't get to go home.
[01:14:28.030]Sometimes they might not go home for three years.
[01:14:32.270]Some were the average became in the later years,
[01:14:36.260]they got to go home in this summer.
[01:14:37.800]But some were out of, and as Dr. Rudi said worked out
[01:14:41.040]in homes that may be where they were mistreated.
[01:14:44.460]There were stories I've heard where some
[01:14:46.040]of the children were treated well,
[01:14:48.100]but imagine that you've been away at school
[01:14:50.290]for several years and you go home and your parents
[01:14:52.610]don't speak English.
[01:14:53.900]And these are English speaking schools.
[01:14:56.240]Someone's children went home and their parents
[01:14:58.700]couldn't understand the children and the children
[01:15:01.770]couldn't understand the parents.
[01:15:04.040]And I heard that from some of those people
[01:15:06.200]that I met over the last 30 years.
[01:15:07.870]And they're almost all gone,
[01:15:09.980]that it was really tragic and sad.
[01:15:14.340]So I don't think there's one answer to tell you,
[01:15:19.978]but a lot of them, like I said, with my mother,
[01:15:23.087]they didn't kill the Indian.
[01:15:24.910]She went home and she worked for her tribe.
[01:15:27.600]And then when she came to Norfork,
[01:15:30.100]she was a cultural mediator and help the Indian people
[01:15:33.280]that moved to Northfork and myself,
[01:15:37.260]I always tell the story that when my mother
[01:15:39.070]came to Northfork, the only place we could,
[01:15:41.370]she could find housing was in a junkyard.
[01:15:44.895]Henry Jones owned a junkyard.
[01:15:47.350]So I grew up in a junk yard.
[01:15:49.010]I'm a junkyard dog.
[01:15:50.680]And really I was up on the bottom of the totem pole.
[01:15:55.620]The black people were superior to us.
[01:15:57.860]And we had high regard because our landlord was a black man.
[01:16:01.210]And he had very poor project housing
[01:16:05.467]that we lived in, these little shacks,
[01:16:08.325]but that's just the way that was.
[01:16:11.910]And I myself now like Dr. Rudi, he's a counselor.
[01:16:15.820]I see myself as a cultural mediator, much like
[01:16:18.570]Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was.
[01:16:20.780]She did a lot of things to help her people.
[01:16:23.120]And so what my mother learned there,
[01:16:26.150]how to live in two worlds and to how to help people,
[01:16:29.490]I saw that model and I do a lot of that
[01:16:32.730]and mentor, a lot of people.
[01:16:35.130]And I know like Dr.(indistinct) here
[01:16:37.130]is one of my board members
[01:16:39.210]and I've been fortunate to work with him.
[01:16:41.770]And many of my board over the years have gone on
[01:16:45.160]to be attorneys, one Native girl
[01:16:46.860]is a judge in Western Nebraska, Andrea Miller,
[01:16:50.550]lots of great success stories of that we can talk about.
[01:16:54.160]And Rick Williams, when you asked about
[01:16:57.350]people going to school, Rick had a great-grandmother
[01:17:00.142]that went to the Genoa Indian school
[01:17:02.290]and she came out of the school blind a lot.
[01:17:05.040]There was a disease that a lot of the children had
[01:17:08.438]and they had poor health care
[01:17:10.614]and all those kids that died there.
[01:17:12.924]Let me tell you some of the causes of death.
[01:17:15.742]They had died from heart failure, students.
[01:17:19.980]Do kids today, die of heart failure?
[01:17:22.440]Or accidental shootings. Are there guns at school typically?
[01:17:25.740]I mean, sometimes now there are, but let's see.
[01:17:28.840]What were some of the other reasons?
[01:17:30.603]Tuberculosis, some kind of wound to the neck.
[01:17:36.310]I suspect some were committed suicide and some were hung
[01:17:39.780]and some children were murdered at the school
[01:17:42.710]and beaten to death, et cetera.
[01:17:44.700]So it's on those records and we've got those.
[01:17:48.845]Someone asked, could we give those death reports
[01:17:53.360]to the paper?
[01:17:54.540]And I said, well, that's part of our process.
[01:17:57.590]When someone dies, you'd like to notify their family.
[01:18:01.100]So until we can notify the families of these children
[01:18:05.670]that we just have found out, it's not appropriate
[01:18:09.180]that we put that in the World Herald or anywhere else,
[01:18:12.140]you know, we've gotta be respectful.
[01:18:14.630]And that's the thing with our people.
[01:18:17.100]We haven't been given respect.
[01:18:18.640]We've been dehumanized, prior to Sanding Bear
[01:18:21.860]we weren't humans and we still are treated
[01:18:24.870]with not a lot of respect and people just really
[01:18:28.020]don't even think we live, but the Ponca Tribe
[01:18:31.000]was restored in 1990 and they're alive and well
[01:18:35.290]and doing things.
[01:18:36.123]They have Prairie Flower Casino.
[01:18:38.010]They fought the State of Nebraska and Iowa
[01:18:40.424]a couple times in the eighth circuit and they prevailed
[01:18:44.530]and they succeeded and they're doing well.
[01:18:46.440]Ho-Chunk Nation, the Winnebago tribe.
[01:18:48.650]They're doing wonderful things in Northeast Nebraska,
[01:18:51.720]the Omaha tribe, they're restoring
[01:18:53.930]the Dr. Susan La Flesche Hospital.
[01:18:55.860]That's another great success story.
[01:18:57.900]So there's a lot of work to do out there.
[01:18:59.800]And I don't know, I could go on and on, but this,
[01:19:04.950]those children that died don't you all find that
[01:19:08.070]pretty shocking that now we can't find their bodies.
[01:19:13.130]They're buried somewhere in the ground.
[01:19:16.310]We'll hopefully soon. Susana, you wanted to speak?
[01:19:19.270]Sure, what I would like to add onto that is that,
[01:19:22.127]you know, people don't realize that when children,
[01:19:25.100]so when children were five years old, okay,
[01:19:27.470]so agents, reservation agents,
[01:19:29.680]they kept track of everybody that lived on reservations.
[01:19:32.540]And once children were five years old,
[01:19:35.540]then they were watched after very closely
[01:19:38.660]because by the age of six is when they
[01:19:40.840]were required to go to school.
[01:19:42.520]So you would have agents that would have sheets
[01:19:45.600]with all of the children that were five years old,
[01:19:48.800]when those birth dates were,
[01:19:50.190]and then they would get ready to send them to school.
[01:19:52.630]And another thing is that, you know, school terms,
[01:19:55.890]they were not just one year terms.
[01:19:58.430]They were three to five-year terms and it was mandatory.
[01:20:02.560]It was law for children to be in school.
[01:20:04.900]So once your child hits six years old, then you know,
[01:20:09.100]a lot of times like just in the Genoa records that you see,
[01:20:12.140]you'll see these really blank applications,
[01:20:16.150]And so you would have like a reservation agent
[01:20:18.500]who would be communicating with the school and,
[01:20:21.610]you know, they would fill out this basic information.
[01:20:24.190]And then you might see some correspondence where the school,
[01:20:27.210]or the agent the school would ask the agent
[01:20:29.700]to get a signature.
[01:20:31.270]And so once they were six years old,
[01:20:33.900]they went into school and it was maybe three years,
[01:20:37.430]maybe four years that they were required to attend school.
[01:20:42.690]But as soon as their limit, their term was about to expire,
[01:20:47.970]then they would send out applications.
[01:20:50.200]So it was just like an ongoing process.
[01:20:52.801]Children, if children were to be able to go home,
[01:21:00.640]then their families had to send a vacation request form
[01:21:06.170]to their reservation agent.
[01:21:08.350]And then it would go to the school.
[01:21:09.940]And then the school would have to send it off
[01:21:11.690]to the commission of Indian Affairs to get
[01:21:14.760]approved and then send it back.
[01:21:17.330]But before a child was allowed to be released home,
[01:21:21.240]their family would have to submit their transportation
[01:21:24.670]money, which was $25 each way.
[01:21:28.070]So if you're figuring that families, you know,
[01:21:31.280]are already impoverished or,
[01:21:33.498]they're waiting for their annuities and,
[01:21:36.030]you know, they don't have any money,
[01:21:38.020]then they're not getting their children back.
[01:21:40.080]So unless they provided transportation to and from school,
[01:21:44.270]their children were not going to be able to come back.
[01:21:47.020]And there are records in that we have found in for Genoa
[01:21:51.560]alone, where, you know, like for instance,
[01:21:54.030]I came across a record where there was a mother
[01:21:56.340]who was asking the school, what to do
[01:21:59.900]because their child was being bullied by some farmer kids.
[01:22:05.210]And so they were concerned about their safety.
[01:22:07.490]And so the only recommendation that the school
[01:22:11.320]gave the parent was, well, then why don't you just,
[01:22:13.920]your child can come here and stay here.
[01:22:17.812]That was another way that a parent would lose their child.
[01:22:21.990]And there were instances where if it was a mile,
[01:22:25.820]or half mile, so if you lived a half mile from a school,
[01:22:32.454]then the school would consider,
[01:22:35.074]when the weather would get too bad,
[01:22:37.900]too dangerous in the winter that it was,
[01:22:40.590]too far for a student to walk.
[01:22:42.950]So then they would recommend that the student
[01:22:45.120]would come to the school and stay at the school.
[01:22:48.062]Parents were losing their children regardless of
[01:22:53.060]you know what, and so also another thing
[01:22:56.407]about boarding school history is,
[01:22:57.240]you know, there was a time when students had no choice.
[01:23:03.410]Families had no choice after the Miriam act of 1928,
[01:23:08.070]things started to lighten up,
[01:23:09.500]but it wasn't until 1978 with the Indian Child Welfare Act,
[01:23:16.060]that Native parents had the freedom to determine
[01:23:19.950]where their children went to school.
[01:23:22.560]So these are really important factors to consider.
[01:23:25.560]You know, when you're looking at boarding school history
[01:23:27.760]at how long parents had absolutely no choice
[01:23:31.134]of how long their students were going to stay in school.
[01:23:37.590]Thank you. There's a question in the back?
[01:23:42.574]Hi, first of all, I just want to ask my elders
[01:23:44.870]to excuse me for speaking before you,
[01:23:47.189]you did answer my question.
[01:23:49.890]I was going to ask if it was true if your family
[01:23:53.548]didn't have enough money for you to come home,
[01:23:56.110]you had to stay at the school.
[01:23:58.240]You could not come home.
[01:23:59.991]My great-grandmother my aunt and my uncles, grandmother.
[01:24:04.360]She was a student at Genoa Boarding School.
[01:24:07.640]She did survive, so we're here today.
[01:24:09.860]Thankful for that.
[01:24:11.340]And I just want to say also when my grandmother,
[01:24:13.955]Elizabeth Sanssouci Stabler and Charles Stabler moved here
[01:24:18.260]to Lincoln, when my grandfather Lorenzo was young,
[01:24:21.900]he came here when he was in fourth grade
[01:24:23.833]and he went to a school over here on the University.
[01:24:26.610]The building is gone now, but they would not let him
[01:24:30.220]into school until he was 16.
[01:24:31.910]He said, he went to school in fourth grade.
[01:24:34.020]He sat down in his chair, he was 16 years old.
[01:24:36.790]He never went back.
[01:24:37.670]He just got up and left with a fourth grade education,
[01:24:41.010]but he did go on.
[01:24:41.843]He's a veteran.
[01:24:42.830]He was in the Korean war.
[01:24:44.351]And basically that's all I wanted to say,
[01:24:47.840]that you know that information.
[01:24:53.990]You know, I just think when I was at Haskell,
[01:24:57.960]like I said, my mother raised eight of us children.
[01:25:00.120]We were poor, I mean, very poor.
[01:25:02.390]So during Christmas time I never came home.
[01:25:04.800]I stayed at the whole nine months at Haskell.
[01:25:12.760]Judi, maybe I know you want to say something,
[01:25:15.370]but if you would close us with the poem,
[01:25:20.010]As an elder, I'm going to put my glasses on
[01:25:22.451](Dr. gaiashkibos chuckles)
[01:25:23.690]to read this beautiful poem.
[01:25:25.660]by Suzan Shown Harjow who received the Medal of Freedom
[01:25:28.740]from president Barack Obama,
[01:25:31.357]"Children in the Meadows in Wetlands"
[01:25:34.900]There are children in the meadows and wetlands,
[01:25:37.360]Native children ran there to hide
[01:25:40.301]when teachers pulled and butchered their hair.
[01:25:43.470]When teachers stole their medicine bags,
[01:25:46.380]when teachers collected their moccasins,
[01:25:49.130]when teachers dressed them in strange clothes,
[01:25:52.130]when teachers beat them with boards and belts,
[01:25:54.580]when teachers starved them for being bad Indians,
[01:25:58.060]the children ran to the meadows and wetlands.
[01:26:01.670]There are children in the meadows and wetlands,
[01:26:03.770]hostages, who were taken to Haskell,
[01:26:06.560]who never saw their families again,
[01:26:09.065]who never saw my, nine or eleven or tomorrow,
[01:26:13.280]who didn't make it home for summer vacations,
[01:26:15.970]who couldn't stop whooping and coughing,
[01:26:18.700]who couldn't learn English fast enough,
[01:26:21.400]who couldn't fall to their knees often enough,
[01:26:24.433]they ran till they fought, fell in the meadows and wetlands.
[01:26:28.600]There are children in the middles and wetlands, hostages
[01:26:32.110]who were taken to Chilocco, where they ran from teachers,
[01:26:37.053]fists and boots, where they ran from bounty hunters' cages,
[01:26:41.480]where they ran home from high collars and hard shoes,
[01:26:45.660]where they ran from lye soap in their mouths,
[01:26:52.520]Where they ran from day and night,
[01:26:54.260]where they ran until wolves outran them.
[01:26:57.830]Their teeth are in the meadows and wetlands.
[01:27:01.490]There are children in the meadows and wetlands, hostages
[01:27:04.250]who were taken to Carlisle and Genoa,
[01:27:07.110]who got to build the school buildings,
[01:27:09.020]who got Christian burials without coffins,
[01:27:12.810]who got a mass grave with their friends
[01:27:15.430]who got plowed under for a football field
[01:27:18.060]who got embedded in concrete for the stadium,
[01:27:21.930]who got to be the practice site
[01:27:23.940]for the Washington Redskins,
[01:27:25.540]because they ran to the meadows and wetlands.
[01:27:29.070]There are children in the meadows and wetlands,
[01:27:32.640]Native children ran there to hide.
[01:27:35.378]You can see their clothes in museums.
[01:27:38.450]You can see their pipe bags at the opera.
[01:27:41.710]You can see bands marching on their hallowed ground.
[01:27:44.980]You can see mascots dancing over their dead bodies.
[01:27:49.450]You can imagine their hair long and beautiful again,
[01:27:53.080]safe from teachers and scissors at last,
[01:27:56.960]these children in the meadows and wetlands.
[01:28:02.090]Suzan Shown Harjo.
[01:28:06.110]Thank you Judi, for sharing that with us,
[01:28:08.838]I'm sure many of you are wondering what actions
[01:28:11.610]you might be able to take personally,
[01:28:13.940]after tonight's discussion and our panelists
[01:28:19.040]have provided us with some direction,
[01:28:21.410]for some actions that we may take individually.
[01:28:28.061]I think it's time that we thank our panel
[01:28:30.800]for helping us all to understand this history,
[01:28:34.010]this very hard, dark history that is part
[01:28:38.670]of our shared past together.
[01:28:41.170]And I'd like to thank the panelists for being open
[01:28:44.800]and honest and vulnerable and sharing so much.
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