December 02, 2007

The boarding school bomb

A Painful RemembranceToledo maintains that Indian people today are suffering the aftershocks of colonization that have resulted in an internalized oppression. She points out that some recent generations of native people have willingly sent their children to government and Christian boarding schools, where they have experienced similar abuses.

She notes that boarding schools effectively taught Native peoples to view themselves as a sub-class within White American society. “The curriculum was designed to make us into servants and, therefore, economically powerless,” she adds.

This process indoctrinated Indians to believe that abandoning their traditional ways for a life of servitude was the best they could hope for; therefore sending one’s child to boarding school was providing the child a chance for survival.

Toledo describes the shame and the disowning of individual and cultural reality as an example of the direct fallout from the “boarding school bomb.”

She and her colleagues are convinced that without the internalized oppression experienced at the schools, Native communities would not have such high levels of violence now.

“A definition or result of internalized oppression is ‘shame and the disowning of our individual and cultural reality,’” Toledo says. She notes that prior to the boarding schools, traditional native cultures did not have significant histories of violence especially against women and children.

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