Friday, February 16th, 2018
Spirituality is a Cherokee lifeway that creates a bond between Cherokee people and is a source of hope. Furthermore, this core value is intrinsic to indigenous cultures around the world that connect us.
Hope beyond hope is a feeling that resonates on the campuses of historic Native American boarding schools. These institutes inflicted injustices on Native families with adverse residual effects that continue to plague Native American families. Over a hundred years ago, Haskell Indian Nations University was such a boarding school.
During my freshman year at this Native American college, I attended an orientation class that described the dark history of Native American boarding schools. The goal of these institutes was to “kill the Indian to save the man”, which was a philosophy of cultural genocide implemented by the United States government. Tragically, Native American children were forcibly removed (kidnapped) from their homes and sent to these assimilation institutes. Despite suffering various forms of abuse, intimidation, and murder, the surviving students were able to maintain their spirituality and sense of identity, which helped them to endure.
Visiting the graves of the youth on the campus was very surreal but seeing the graves of the parents who died while waiting at the gates of the campus was heart wrenching. The orientation class concluded with a moment of silence and an obligation placed on the students to honor the sacrifice of our Native People by obtaining an education to better help our different tribes.
Ironically, both Haskell and Native American tribes now utilize institutional strategies to perpetuate and preserve our cultural lifeways and language. The Preservation Foundation itself is located on the site of a former boarding school and is a philanthropic institute. Within this blog, learn about the extraordinary work being done by grantees that seek to infuse contemporary strategies with the spiritually based “Cherokee-Way” or “Right Way” (Du-yu dv-i).
Bobby Raines, M.B.A.