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Another Alaska

Abuse, resistance, and survival in a Native boarding school

BY BEVERLY SLAPIN

Home > Archives > Volume 26 No.4 - Summer 2012
 

My Name Is Not Easy
By Debby Dahl Edwardson
(Marshall Cavendish, 2011)

The elders say the earth has turned
over seven times, pole to pole,
north to south.
Freezing and thawing,
freezing and thawing,
flipping over and tearing apart.
Changing everything.
We were there.
We were always there.
They say no one survived
the ice age but they’re wrong.
There were seven ice ages
and we survived.
We survived them all...

The residential schools, run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or various church denominations, were established in Alaska in the early 1900s. Until 1976, when the Molly Hootch settlement required the state to establish local schools even in the remote “bush” regions, Alaskan Native children were sent to these boarding schools, which were hundreds or even thousands of miles away from their homes and families. Children were away for years at a time. As a result, cultural ties and intergenerational relationships were broken, and languages and ways of seeing the world were unlearned. The wounds were deep and the scars remain. For the most part, people still don’t talk about their residential school experiences.



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