Don Coyhis: Healing the Trauma of the Boarding School Era

by Nick Vander Puy
Reserve, Wisconsin (IndianCountryTV)

The Wellbriety Journey for Forgiveness, trekking from Oregon to Washington DC, with a hoop of one hundred eagle feathers, stopped in Lac Du Flambeau, Wisconsin on Sunday June 14 to acknowledge the Indian boarding school that operated on the reservation from 1895 to the 1930's. 

The Lac du Flambeau tribe is restoring the boarding school dormitory to commemorate the abuses and culture loss suffered there by Indian people.

The goal for native re-education at the time was "kill the Indian, save the man." The War Department determined it was actually cheaper to civilize Indians rather than kill them outright.

Eighty-one year old Geraldine Poupart-Brown from Lac Du Flambeau remembers some of "the mean" teachers who cut off the children's braids, and scoured their shaved heads with DDT insecticide. It burned for about a week. At some schools children's fingers were  even chopped off for speaking their native language.

Sad tales make up these accounts, but Don Coyhis from White Bison Inc.(Whitebison.org) says it's important to share the stories and strive towards "forgiving the unforgivable."

"The Hoop brings Hope, Unity, Healing, and the power to Forgive the Unforgivable."

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