Aaron Payment. Photo: Native Vote

Aaron Payment: Innocent children victmized again by our government

Statement on immigrant children

By Aaron Payment
Chairperson, Sault Tribe

Unfortunately, American Indians all too well know the trauma induced by federal policy that separated our children from their families and tribal nations.

The pedagogy for Indian boarding schools in the late 1800s was, “Kill the Indian to save the man.” There are so many parallels to the current crisis of internment of innocent immigrant children with Indian boarding schools and forced reservation policy. Indian boarding schools even had their own cemeteries.

You would think that in this century we would be far removed from such practices at the hands of the federal government. The President of the United States just announced his intent to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Warning signs were evident in the 1930s with German nationalism just before the Holocaust. What further signs do we need to see before the collective consciousness of Americans to understand what is happening?

Tribes are non-partisan. The welfare of our most vulnerable in our territories should not be partisan.

It is incumbent upon each and every one of us, the indigenous people and the rest (ironically descendants of immigrants) to adopt a more humane policy with respect to immigrant children.

Aaron Payment is serving his third term as chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He also serves as president of the United Tribes of Michigan and as first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, the largest inter-tribal organization in the United States. He recently earned a doctorate in educational leadership from Central Michigan University.

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