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Archive for Saturday, September 13, 2008

Symposium weighs damage of US expansion on tribes

Boarding schools left scars on American Indians, speakers say

Actor Wes Studi, left, and filmmaker Kevin Willmott discuss their new film, "The Only Good Indian," during the Kansas Lewis and Clark Symposium on Friday at the Dole Institute of Politics. The event focused on the relationship between American Indian tribes and the U.S. government before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Actor Wes Studi, left, and filmmaker Kevin Willmott discuss their new film, "The Only Good Indian," during the Kansas Lewis and Clark Symposium on Friday at the Dole Institute of Politics. The event focused on the relationship between American Indian tribes and the U.S. government before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition.

September 13, 2008

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The first contact Meriwether Lewis and William Clark made with American Indians on their exploration across the country forever changed the course of tribal life.

"We didn't all experience the winning of the West the same way," said Dan Wildcat, director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center and of the American Studies program at Haskell Indian Nations University. "For some of us this was an invasion of homelands."

Wildcat was one of several speakers at Friday's Kansas Lewis and Clark Symposium at the Dole Institute of Politics. The event was the final stop in a three-year, 11-state symposia designed to discuss the American Indian way of life before and after the Lewis and Clark expedition and to look to the future for how to preserve tribal traditions.

Wildcat discussed a major way the explorers' trip across the continent affected tribal nations, which was through boarding schools created in the 1900s. Haskell Indian Nations University, for example, was originally a boarding school. Children were taken from their homes and forced into the schools to assimilate into white society.

Tammy Wahwassuck, of the Kickapoo Reserve in Horton, said her sister and mother went to boarding schools.

"It's interesting because people out there really don't know what boarding schools were like," she said. "It really was an experience for them because they did make you do things you didn't want to do and your parents weren't there to help you."

Speakers discussed the way in which tribal elders and tribal colleges such as Pawnee Nation College in Oklahoma are working to preserve native traditions and languages that were lost.

A highlight of the symposium was a sneak peek at a new film directed by Lawrence filmmaker Kevin Willmott starring Wes Studi, from "The Last of the Mohicans" and "Geronimo."

The film, "The Only Good Indian," written by Tom Carmody and shot in Kansas, is about a young boy taken from his home and forced into a boarding school. He later escapes, but is sought by Studi's character, a bounty hunter of Cherokee descent named Sam Franklin, who exemplifies the byproduct of assimilation.

Willmott and Studi discussed the film with an audience of about 200.

Studi himself went to a boarding school for four years in Oklahoma, the same school his father went to in the 1940s. The role he played in the movie reminds him of his father, he said.

"He had adopted some of those traits that this character had," Studi said. "I used him as a reference in my performance in a way."

The film was a learning process for Willmott, who said he first learned about boarding schools when working with Wildcat during the creation of his film "Confederate States of America."

"I think a large part of what the symposium has been about is holding on to identity, holding on to who you are and at the same time becoming part of America but not losing yourself," Willmott said.

"Boarding schools were designed to lose yourself," he said. "I think they were a beautiful example of how people fought to hold on to who they are and in many ways the symposium was kind of a celebration of that."

Comments

notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

But then, being informed of the facts before posting has never been a trademark of yours, has it, boohoozo?

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notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says: >>> "In 1884?""Yet another display of ignorance."So tell us, clown-rants-from-bus: What year did Haskell open? (I'll save you the trouble, oh ignorant one - from their website: "Twenty-two American Indian children entered the doors of a new school in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1884 to begin an educational program that focused on agricultural education in grades one through five." Pretty sure they didn't arrive by bus, boohoozo.)

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 7 months ago

"In 1884?"Yet another display of ignorance.

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madmike 5 years, 7 months ago

I believe it was a scientific anomaly only associated with nuns! Their ability to see out of the backs of their heads is renowned, as is their ability to make a pointer sound like a sword in a Bruce Lee movie when they swing it.

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notajayhawk 5 years, 7 months ago

InspectorJo (Anonymous) says:"The children were herded up like cattle, placed on a bus..."I'm not saying it wasn't awful, but...A bus?In 1884?***madmike (Anonymous) says: "I survived 12 years of Catholic confinement too!"In my own 12 years, one mystery remained: Was that CRACK* one heard when a nun threw a piece of chalk a) The chalk breaking the sound barrier as it passed (hopefully) your head,b) the cinder block wall in the back of the classroom disintegrating to dust when the chalk hit,c) the nuclear explosion resulting from the chalk compressing to critical mass on impact?

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toe 5 years, 7 months ago

President Jackson was the king of cruel. He stands alone as the worst President in the eyes of many Indians. His solution was nothing short of genocide.

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InspectorJo 5 years, 7 months ago

I can not even imagine the hurt both physically and emotionally that the American Indians went through. For those of you that don't know, Boarding Schools were not a few months a year or some place that your parents dropped you at in the morning and picked you up in the afternoon. The children were herded up like cattle, placed on a bus and taken to a boarding school far from their homeland and the children did not speak english. How confusing this must of been. The children stayed at the boarding school year round and some only got to visit their parents once or twice a year. The children endured physical and mental abuse not to mention sexual abuse.

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madmike 5 years, 7 months ago

I survived 12 years of Catholic confinement too! I still remember Sister Mary Badass! I swore that those black habits were to hide the jack boots!

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tunahelper 5 years, 7 months ago

omaba would leave a HUGE scar on America if he got elected. however, he won't get elected.GO McCain!!Sarah Palin ROCKS!!!

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blakus 5 years, 7 months ago

Can't wait to see the film. I enjoy Willmott's films immensely and this one seems to be one of the more serious films he has done (not that his others arn't).

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Tom Hilger 5 years, 7 months ago

Catholic grade school left scars on American kids also.

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