Naomi Schaefer Riley: Catholic schools try to make up for bad past

Students at Catholic school, believed to be in South Dakota, ca. 1930-1940. Photo from Marquette University, Department of Special Collections and University Archives

The Catholic Church's legacy at Indian boarding schools in the United States and Native residential schools in Canada is well known. But author Naomi Schaefer Riley, who just released a book titled The New Trail of Tears: How Washington Is Destroying American Indians, believes the church is trying to make up for its negative history:
“The majority of the kids I went to school with are dead,” says Manny Jules, “because of the experience they had, the abuse.”

Jules, 63, is the former chief of the Kamloops band of First Nations in British Columbia. As a child, he attended a residential Catholic school, where he remembers students experiencing physical, sexual and emotional abuse while separated from their families and community.

This trauma, shared for decades by Native American youths across Canada and the United States who were sent to Catholic schools, is at least in part to blame for the high level of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide in Indian communities.

Today, the Catholic Church has apologized – Pope Benedict XVI did so in 2009; Pope Francis did in 2015. But the Church still operates schools for Native children. And that is where the real reconciliation is happening.

Get the Story:
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Catholic schools for Native Americans, known for abuse and assimilation, try to do good (The Washington Post 8/2)

Other Recent Opinions from Naomi Schaefer Riley:
Naomi Schaefer Riley: One Way to Help Native Americans: Property Rights (The Atlantic 7/30)
Naomi Schaefer Riley: The Loophole Economy Is No Jackpot for Indians (The Wall Street Journal 7/28)
How Political Correctness Is Leading Us To Ignore Abuse on American Indian Reservations (Independent Women's Forum 7/25)

Related Stories
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Tribal justice systems trample on rights of their own people (07/11)
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Hold tribal leaders accountable for schools (05/23)

Join the Conversation