Yesterday was such an eye opening and blessed day. We were all lucky enough to witness and be a part of a new way of learning our history. It mostly consisted of Canadian history, with First Nations indigenous people that lived and live throughout Canada. To briefly explain, there were blankets laid out all over the ground but none were ever overlapped. Each blanket represented a territory of different indigenous people located in Canada. We were given scripts and different pieces of paper, to read and hold on to while we all stood on different pieces of land. The story line started from the beginning, before the white settlers came. It moved through the trust and cooperation between First Nations people and the Europeans. Next was treaties, which tragically started the beginning of a story that wouldn’t be truthfully told in the future to come. After that, was the forced movement of indigenous people onto reservations. On smaller plots of land than they had before the colonization. Then disease swept the country and killed of many Native people, this was one of the reasons we had colored paper. White paper represented the ancestors that were lost to disease and sickness. Sadly it wasn’t the end, white people weren’t satisfied enough with this, they wanted our people to be extinct but because it was too expensive to go to war with NDNs, they put us in boarding schools (residential schools) instead. Sexual abuse, Physical abuse, and mental abuse was prevalent in these government created schools. They were created to change us into “civilized humans” or be as close to white as possible. Another reason was to assimilate us into the Catholic or Christian religion because no other religion was allowed to exist. These schools continued until 1996, that was the year the last NDN boarding school shut down. The effects linger, and continue to effect indigenous people throughout Canada and the United States.
I am going to leave it there, because it is a hard subject to talk about. Although I do believe that all Native American youth need to be exposed to our true history, whether its with the blanket exercise or with some other form of information.
I believe that this blanket exercise needs to be taught and role played by every tribe or reservation in Turtle Island. With a similar style but more knowledge on every history in America and Canada.
Katherine Jefferson (Kat)