Healing from history

Indian Country Today

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition's CEO Christine Diindiisi McCleave is on the show to talk about their recent national conference. And national correspondent Mary Annette Pember joins us to tell us more about Oglala President-elect Kevin Killer and the challenges he faces.

Christine Diindiisi McCleave, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe citizen and CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is talking about some of the outcomes from their recent conference.

Plus national correspondent Mary Annette Pember is back on the show with more details on the challenges facing longtime South Dakota legislator and Oglala President-elect Kevin Killer.

Some quotes from today's show.

Christine Diindiisi McCleave:

"Absolutely. So as you mentioned we were formed in 2012. It was the result of a national symposium with leaders from across the country and some from Canada, because at that point, Canada had its truth and reconciliation commission underway. We realized that we needed some kind of similar process here in the United States."

Survivors of Indian Boarding Schools after an honoring ceremony at NABS’s 2nd Annual Boarding School Healing Conference held in Tulalip, Washington, in November 2019. Photo Credit: Adam Sings In The Timber (Apsaalooke)
Survivors of Indian Boarding Schools after an honoring ceremony at NABS’s 2nd Annual Boarding School Healing Conference held in Tulalip, Washington, in November 2019.Photo Credit: Adam Sings In The Timber (Apsaalooke)

"The federal government had never acknowledged this history that the general public in this country is largely unaware that this is part of American history. And that these issues are affecting our communities and impacting our families and our lives in ways that is a result of the ongoing historical and intergenerational trauma. So we needed to have informed solutions for our tribal leaders and for our local governments. And we did recently get a truth and healing commission bill introduced by Congresswoman Deb Haaland and Senator Warren."

"So we'll see what happens there, but in the meantime, the Boarding School Healing Coalition is addressing this work and doing the work of a truth commission in trying to find the records from these some 367 schools. Collecting oral histories from people who experienced these assimilative boarding schools and providing spaces for those to gather like at our healing summit yesterday, where we actually heard from boarding school survivors, their experiences and their healing process. And it's definitely work that involves many different sectors. Education legislators with policy and social and mental wellbeing. Social workers emotional and mental health. So it crosses into a lot of different aspects of our lives."

Mary Annette Pember:

"Yes, the Oglala Sioux tribe on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. They had their election on the same day that we had the national presidential elections. Their elections were to find the 20 members of their council and a President and Vice President. They elected Kevin Killer as President and Alicia Mousseau as Vice President. "

"Kevin has experience in the South Dakota state legislature. He was a Senator and also in the state house for 10 years. He was a Democrat and he said he has lots of experience being in the minority because it was primarily a Republican led legislature. And so he says he's quite good at listening and negotiating. So those would be probably really good skills to bring to the table as president of the Oglala Sioux tribe."

"He takes office the first week in December, as well as the other council members and the Vice-President. So there'll be facing the same things that the past president faced, really high COVID rates. And in the state, South Dakota has no policy basically regarding COVID. They don't have any mask mandates or or social distancing. And their COVID levels are very, very high and rising all the time. Their hospital beds are growing increasingly scarce. And of course in the Pine Ridge reservation there are very few services, so people are very concerned for time. They shut the entire reservation down. They actually shut the roads down and battled a little bit there with the governor Kristi Noem regarding that, but they stood their ground. They realized that they are on their own there. And it's a very tough battle there."

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Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pember loves film, books and jingle dress dancing.

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