Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse. Genocide. Take you pick on any and all of the afore-mentioned issues you didnâ€™t learn in your American History class as it pertains to Native Americans and Manifest Destiny.
As a person of middle-aged status, it disturbs me to discover how often writers of history distorted lessons learned in childhood. In our youth we are not taught to question authority. We are to take in the information offered as truth, memorize dates an names, and pass required tests. But what is the truth? Whose lives and voices were included in our history textbooks, and whose were left out? Why? Shouldnâ€™t we receive the full spectrum of stories to better understand where we were, where we are, and where we want to go in the future?
Last week I attended a viewing of the documentary, The Wellbriety Movement: Journey of Forgiveness. Afterwards, in a sobering and emotionally stirring presentation, Basil Brave Heart, a Lakota Elder, member of the Gray Eagle Feather Society; a Spiritual Leader from Pine Ridge South Dakota, shared his personal boarding school experience and journey of forgiveness.
Mr. Brave Heart, 80, is a soft-spoken man whose eyes roamed the audience with calmness and respect. He shared his story of being a Native American child sent to a government-sponsored boarding school and the personal and social ripples that haunted his life ever after. Many Americans have no knowledge of this chapter in our so-called Manifest Destiny, or of the abuses inflicted on Native American children under the guise of assimilation.
As I watched the documentary and heard Mr. Brave Heartâ€™s account of his life, I couldnâ€™t help reflect on how the recipe for power repeats itself over and over again. To name a few examplesâ€¦what white Europeans did to the Native Americans, the genocidal practices perpetrated against Australian Aborigines by all Australian governments from British settlement in 1788 until the present (http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/1999/09/geno-s07.html.), and what I believe the Chinese government is doing to the Tibetans right now. There are many, many, more examples of course. Too many.
What was inspiring, however, was Mr. Brave Heartâ€™s missive. â€œOur goal and message right now is to raise awareness about the boarding schools, and about the generational issues created by them. Itâ€™s not about blame,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s about healing through forgiveness.â€ Amen, Mr. Brave Heart. Amen.
If youâ€™d like to learn more or perhaps view the documentary, here is a link: