Warren Petoskey (Lakota/Odawa) and his wife Barbara
On Wednesday June 6th 2012 we attended a special gathering hosted by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe in Mt. Pleasant Michigan.
The government has given the Tribe the land and buildings where the Mt. Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School was located. It was established in 1893 and ran till 1934 with an average of 300 students per year.
Our friend Warren Petoskey from Michigan was an honored guest and the day included the showing of a DVD documentary that he helped direct and produce about the Mt. Pleasant school.
Also our friends Mike Peters and Kelly Ellis of 4-Fires Ministry attended with us and participated in the prayers and tours.
It was a deeply moving day as many Elders shared their own experiences and those of their parents. I was born and raised in Michigan and found it difficult to hear and process the sorrow, pain and injustices that have taken place on that property.
It is hard to believe that such things took place in the “Land of the Free” where everyone is supposed to be considered “equal”. The pursuit of happiness was certainly denied these children.
Spirit Runners carried, through the streets and then into the gathering, the names of over 150 children who died while in that school. A roll call announcing the names of all the children was made in the afternoon. Officially only 5 children were reported to had died there, but independent agencies are helping the Tribe to verify the many hundreds of deaths that actually took place. New names are found regularly.
The atrocities that took place there are too horrible to write into this post. A Tribal spokesperson said, “Today we are forgiving the unforgivable, this gathering is a part of that process that will go on for many years.”
Christian Pastors were asked to speak, share and pray as a part of the spiritual component of the gathering.
The purpose of the gathering was to honor the memory of the children and the families affected by the school and to acknowledge the pain and suffering so that healing can take place.
Please say a prayer today for the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe and for the affected families.
Attend next year if you can.