Better late than never

Posted: August 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

And this was her story, that she was a full blooded member of the Chippewa tribe in Wisconsin. She had not, however, grown up on the reservation as did her parents and grandparents before her. She was born on the reservation to be eligible for tribal benefits. But that was it. As far as life went she was mainstreamed into non-Indian culture.

Her grandmother lived in the time when the reservation children were placed in church-run boarding schools. They were routinely beaten for manifesting any indigenous cultural practices or language. The goal was to “whiten” these children. And they were sexually abused. A lot. They were vulnerable and had no protectors.

For my friend this was not a personal memory, but rather a family, tribal memory. She shared how she tried to reconcile all this with the Christian faith, the religion that played so much a part in the story.

As we walked down the hallway side-by-side I turned to her and asked, “Has anyone – church or government – ever apologized for what was done to your family?”

She thought a moment. “No, I can’t think of a single example.”

“I am sorry,” I said, “for everything that we did to you and yours.”

She stopped in place and looked at me with an expression that fell somewhere between skepticism and hopefulness.

“Thank you,” she finally said in a whisper.
And I couldn’t think of anything more to say. And neither could she.

Comments
  1. Audie says:

    How sweet and tender. In his image…

  2. Barbara says:

    Beautiful! Thank you.

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