It is not known how many Native American children attended one of the nearly 500 schools set up by the US federal government to assimilate them into society. It is not known how many died there. What is known is that there was widespread physical and sexual abuse at the schools and the children returned home traumatized. For many years, tribal ceremonies that could have helped the children to heal were forbidden. Many of the children grew up and turned to alcohol and drugs to ease the pain, others committed suicides or died an early death from a tragic accident, others became abusers themselves.
While most of these schools have since shut down, the trauma of what happened at the US Indian schools lives on in Native American communities. Native people are still dying at unprecedented rates from suicides, alcohol and drugs and domestic violence. So many young Native people are dying now, that many Native communties feel like a war zone and hardly a week goes by without a funeral for yet another child.
The feeling must be similar to what veterans felt when they were serving in the war - and that is why we feel it is fitting to pay tribute to the many Native American people who directly or indirectly have suffered and died from the effects of the intergenerational trauma perpetrated by US Indian schools.
For more information about The Way Home Tour, visit our website at www.TheWayHomeTour.org.