Governor Evers recently signed Executive Order #136, which issued a formal apology and acknowledgment of Wisconsin’s role in Indian boarding schools throughout history.
On top of this, the Order also formally supported the U.S. Department of Interior’s investigation of federal boarding school policies. Moreover, the document states that any investigations conducted in the state must first consult with Wisconsin’s Native Nations.
The History Of Day Schools: Nation & State-Wide
From 1860 to 1970, the federal government essentially forced thousands of Native American children to separate from their families and move to boarding schools. These federally-funded schools were operated by government officials and religious organizations and intended to assimilate these kids into American ways of life.
As a result, these children were isolated from their cultural identities, prohibited from practicing traditions, and were even forced to get haircuts.
Although historical records are scarce, there’s proof that there were at least ten day and boarding schools in the state of Wisconsin. Thousands of Native American children attended these schools, and hundreds more were relocated to out-of-state boarding schools.
The lack of available records makes it difficult to understand today the full effect Wisconsin’s boarding schools had on the Indigenous community. Despite this, Gov. Evers and the rest of the state are now taking the proper steps to rectify the past.
Long-Term Impressions Caused By Native Boarding Schools
The effect these boarding schools had stretches beyond the generation that actually endured the injustices first-hand.
For years, emotional trauma, culture loss, language loss, and several other unfavorable consequences have plagued the Native community because of the boarding schools. So, Executive Order #136 intends to recognize the multi-generational cultural effects.
“We have a moral obligation to pursue the truth and to bring these injustices to light in Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers explains. In addition to addressing cultural effects, the Order aims to honor the resilience and contributions of Native Americans in the state.
When more communities, small and large, take steps to acknowledge and correct historical injustices, it has a positive effect on Indigenous people everywhere.
Of course, it’s impossible to go back in time and correct the numerous mistakes that were made, like the government boarding schools. But, Gov. Evers and states across the country are creating a national effort to address those injustices.
By doing this, it draws awareness to the challenges Native Americans were forced to endure. And the more recognition these oppressions receive, there forms a better understanding and respect for Indigenous culture amongst people everywhere.