Albuquerque Indian School
A class of girls in uniform at the Albuquerque Indian School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, circa 1900. Photo: National Archives
$100,000 for every year spent in a boarding school sounds reasonable
Monday, November 1, 2021

There are those who would ask the Christian Churches and the U. S. Government to apologize to the survivors and the descendants of the boarding schools.

Apologize? The churches and the government nearly destroy the spirituality and the culture of a people and some are asking for an apology. No way!

We believe that the government and the churches should pay any living survivor of the boarding schools $100,000 for each year they spent at these schools.

From day one at the boarding schools the children were taught that their traditional religions were heathen, that their Native language was no longer acceptable, and that everything about their cultural and traditional lives were wrong. In other words, the movement to change these Native children into white children had begun.

The psychological damage to the children caused by losing their identity is ongoing. Parents and grandparents, the original victims, were often so traumatized that they passed these fears and doubts on to their children. And thus several generations of confused and culturally abused children were born.

And to make it worse, these priests, nuns, ministers and government officials believed they were doing what was best for the children. They believed that the only way these children could survive was by being acculturated. Instead, they left a damaged Indian population spread across this country and some never survived these failed efforts at total assimilation.

An apology? Whoever came up with that idea never attended a boarding school or saw the suffering of the elders who did survive. Money can never make up for the damage done, but perhaps it can make the lives of those elder survivors a little better.

The only thing the government and the churches really understand is money. So perhaps by paying the survivors of the boarding schools the sum we suggested, it will hurt them in the only place they can be hurt: in the pocket book.

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