Today is National Indigenous People's Day.

Evanston's own Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (MMAI) was instrumental in advocating for Evanston to become the first Illinois city to recognize this day.

Click here for information about programs happening later today.

Today's events include special guest The Honorable Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, and a presentation by Lauren van Schilfgaarde (Cochiti Pueblo), the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Tribal Legal Development Clinic Director at UCLA School of Law.

This year, MMAI will shine a light on one of the darkest chapters for Indigenous Communities across Turtle Island: U.S. Indian Boarding Schools and Canadian Residential Schools. This educational event will explore the government policies enacted, highlight the resiliency of survivors, and discuss the lingering traumatic effects on Indigenous communities.

Indian Boarding Schools in North America

Across the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and forced to attend government and church run boarding schools. The forced assimilation and attempted eradication of Native people through compulsory “residential schools” with a policy of “kill the Indian, save the man” resulted in the loss of life, the loss of a generation of relatives, language speakers, and culture bearers.

In 2007, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established because of the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Here in the United States, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. The Department of the Interior will identify boarding school sites, locations of known and possible student burial sites located at or near school facilities and identify the children and their tribal affiliations to bring them home.

Recently, 1,500+ mass unmarked graves have been found at Residential schools across Canada. In the United States, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe Youth Council worked for six years to bring home nine of their relatives from Carlisle Indian School. After more than 140 years away, they were welcomed home in July of this year. The work to bring the relatives home has just started.


Port Harrison (Inukjuak) Federal Hostel, group of students, nuns and Aboriginal men posing in front of the school, Quebec, ca. 1890 {credit: MMAI website]

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