I love my country. This country is all I know. My fathers family can trace 8 generations in the North East. I always felt a sense of pride knowing every male in my family served in every war except for my brother. I always thought our country was the greatest as I was taught about all that we did and all that we accomplished. I was always reminded of various perspectives from my father as he would share his opinions, his truths and history as really occurred. He always wanted me to have the perspective from all not one; not the dominant culture but all.
I have always been impressed by the boarding school model as they prepare children for colleges and intellectual thinking. For some inner city youths it gives them opportunities that they may never receive. As we know boarding schools have been in existence for several centuries. Today these boarding schools may cost up to $55,000+. When we hear that one attended a boarding school we often light up and assume this person is highly educated, well rounded and may come from a wealthy family. In some cases programs such as Prep for Prep or Oliver to name a few may attend Boarding Schools through a scholarship or partial scholarship. These schools are usually on acres of land far from the city with a sense of peace on the grounds and in the walls. That peace lived in some who attended boarding schools but not all. If you were Native American you may have been taken from your family or your family may have had no choice and you attended this boarding school that was created to civilize the Native Americans. As we know Native Americans are depicted in the old Western films as savages and as wild individuals with skinned heads and Mohawks however this is the perception that was engrained by many through television and sometimes books. Our history was told to us and shared by way of one perspective. We know the old depiction Blacks were slaves, Native Americans run wild through the woods on horses fighting whites and families are separated causing for one to loose their identity. Some may perceive their understanding of boarding schools for Native Americans as a way to cultivate a people. However, at what cost. At what cost do we cultivate people? At what cost do we take ones identity? Who benefits? Dependent upon ones viewpoint or perception the concept of a boarding school may appear to level the playing field for Native Americans however when children attended the boarding school they were forced to cut their hair, dress a particular way, loose their language and traditions. Those who were darker skinned which are considered Full Blood were bathed in lye or kerosene. My neighbors fuel their home with kerosene. Lye is used in some hair products to straighten ones hair. Lye burns and can actual burn ones skin off. These methods were used to lighten and strip the Native Americans of their color. Those who were darker were too dark were forced to have their skin lightened.
I think about the way in which people spend millions of dollars per year tanning at a salon, traveling to the Carribean and using bronzers to darken their skin. I can now understand why so many people of color have issues with their identity; their concept of beauty and their concept of self. I can understand why some not all but some present day Native Americans are ashamed to speak in their tongue, ashamed to celebrate in their Native dance and ashamed of their culture. Native Americans like African Americans were expected to release their song, release their voice and release their tradition. When you strip one of their culture you strip them of self. How do we heal people who have had so much taken? How do we build pride and self when our history has damaged our soul? How do we move forward when the past may haunt us? Our history as told by the dominant culture is often told in a tongue that makes it palpable to accept yet when our history (referring to our American History) is told from the tongue of several we hear the harsh truths of our America. Our America with all its beauty has its faults. Our America has several stories to tell through many voices and perspectives. Our America is made from a tapestry of fabrics that interlock at each end. Our America must tell its story from the voice of all its people.
This post was originally posted by Nyree Dixon and was originally published here.