School memories are burned deep
Date: August 16, 2007 10:53AM
Nearly 80 years ago, Neva Pewewardy Santiago and Marjorie Tah doo ah nippah Brunston were taken from their families and placed in the Fort Sill Indian boarding school in southwest Oklahoma.
They were 8 years old.
They were told not to speak their tribal language or observe their cultural customs -- and were physically punished if they did.
"At night I would cry," Santiago said. "I would be so lonesome.... I felt like I was a hundred miles away from my family."
The federal government designed the Indian boarding schools in the 1870s after Capt. Richard H. Pratt's philosophy: "Kill the Indian, but not the man."
At one time, more than 500 such schools were sprinkled across the nation, run primarily by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and churches. The Bureau of Indian Affairs estimates that more than 100,000 American Indians attended these schools from the 1870s through the 1940s.
"It's a story that's never been told correctly," said Tom Carmody, writer and producer of "The Only Good Indian," a drama being filmed at Old Cowtown Museum.
Carmody grew up in Lawrence, near Haskell Indian Institute, now known as Haskell Indian Nations University, and went to public school with American Indian children. He remembers hearing about their parents' and grandparents' painful boarding school experiences.
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