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Effort To Put History Of Indian Boarding Schools Into Classrooms

Above Photo: Sens. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, on Wednesday welcomed survivors of the Harbor Springs Holy Childhood Indian boarding school and their families to the Michigan Senate as the lawmakers introduced legislation to include lessons on Indian boarding schools in the state’s recommended curriculum standards. Sen. Schmidt.

Lansing, Michigan – An effort is underway in Lansing to encourage Michigan’s Board of Education to ensure new generations of students would be taught about the history of Native American boarding schools.

The history of the boarding schools would also focus on the atrocities committed at the schools.

Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Travere City, introduced SB 876, which would encourage the curriculum for 8th-12th grades.

“My response for that is very favorable. I’m glad to hear that. You know, it’s always good to be heard,” said George Jeffrey Martin, Secretary, Gun Lake Tribal Council. “It’s the start of allowing us to tell the story. It’s not gonna be pleasant.”

The proposed legislation was created with the input of Native American tribal leaders, who are more aware than anyone of the horrors committed in the boarding schools.

Native American boarding schools were government funded and located across the United States.

Historians say Native American students were often ripped from their homes and forced to attend the schools with the intention of quashing indigenous culture.

In the case of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe in Southwest Michigan, they largely lost their language.

“The people who would’ve been fluent, they really had it trained out of them. Well, ‘trained’. With these boarding schools, it was really, well, beaten out of them in some cases,” said Cassandra Bush, Language Technician for the Gun Lake Tribe.

There were multiple Native American boarding schools in Michigan.

The land where a school in Mount Pleasant once sat was returned to tribe members in 2010.

Tribal researchers found records that more than 200 children had died at the school.

Tribal leaders say the legislation Sen. Schmidt introduced is the best place to start in teaching a new generation about indigenous history.

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