NPR interviews Alaskan family on their journey to healing their identity.


Posted By Corinne Oestreich June 5th, 2018 Blog



Many of us are aware of the damage that boarding schools caused. Intergenerational trauma, loss of language, abuse being only a few of the effects these damaging schools caused.

NPR covers the journey of one Alaskan family as they seek to understand their own identities in the wake of boarding school trauma. Click the link below to read their story.

From NPR:

When Constance was in middle school, she was forced by the federal government to leave her family and move to a boarding school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the Department of the Interior. Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, Alaska, was 1,200 miles away. Classes were in English, the teachers were mostly white, and the students were forbidden to speak the languages they had grown up with.

The goal of the boarding school program was simple and destructive. A founder of the program, Army officer Richard Pratt, explained in 1892, “A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

Constance Oozevaseuk was taught to hate a lot of things about her culture and, by proxy, about herself. The food she grew up eating, the clothes her family wore, the way they hunted and fished, the stories they told, the songs they sang and the very words they spoke were inferior, she was taught. It was traumatizing.

Read more of the story – NPR: The Conflicting educations of Sam Schimmel

About Corinne Oestreich

Corinne Oestreich (Mohawk/Lakota) has been a writer with powwows.com since 2014. She lives in the state of CA, and enjoys attending and photographing many of the Northern CA powwows and events. She owns her own photography business and is also a Fellow with Changemaker Initiative in partnership with Ashoka.

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