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Tiny Horrors: A Chilling Reminder of How Cruel Assimilation Was—And Is - ICTMN.com

adailyriot:

image

For such small objects, the child’s handcuffs are surprisingly heavy when cradled in the palms of one’s hand. Although now rusted from years of disuse, they still convey the horror of their brutal purpose, which was to restrain Native children who were being brought to boarding schools. “I felt the weight of their metal on my heart,” said Jessica Lackey of the Cherokee tribe as she described holding the handcuffs for the first time.

Lackey, an alumnus of Haskell Indian Nations University, was working at the school’s Cultural Center & Museum when the handcuffs were unwrapped last spring after being kept in storage for several years. I had heard rumors about the existence of the handcuffs during visits to Haskell over the years and had made numerous inquiries to school authorities about them, but people seemed very reluctant to discuss this touchy artifact. This past summer, however, Haskell agreed to allow a public viewing of the handcuffs. Andy Girty, one of the elders who first blessed the handcuffs when they were given to Haskell in 1989, helped unwrap them for me.

Known as the Haskell Institute in its early years, the school opened its doors in 1884. It was originally founded as an instrument of the final solution to this country’s “Indian problem”; Haskell Institute’s mission then was embodied in the now infamous motto of Captain Richard H. Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” This mind-set led to decades of forced acculturation through brutal military-style incarceration cloaked as education in U.S. Indian boarding schools.

Although begun as a model for assimilation, native students have, over the years, transformed Haskell into a model for self-determination. The school’s early curriculum featured training in domestic and farming skills but has since evolved into four-year university.

Haskell’s Cultural Center & Museum, located on campus, tells the full—and often cruel—story of Haskell’s painful past as well as providing a venue to showcase Native art, culture from the past and present. Opened in 2002, the center features the permanent exhibit Honoring Our Children Through Seasons of Sacrifice, Survival, Change and Celebration, featuring artifacts, photos and letters from the school’s early days.

Among the artifacts currently on display is

Andy Girty and Jessica Lackey
Andy Girty and Jessica Lackey

a heavy iron lock and key for the school jail, which held unruly students. Letters, photographs, copies of early school newspapers and daily menus are among the more commonplace artifacts of early daily life displayed at the museum. One display includes a heavy lock and key from the small on site jail used to punish unruly students. Soon, perhaps, the handcuffs will be included among these artifacts, adding its chilling testimony regarding the practices used by early educators to kill the Indian and save the child.

Not much is known about the diminutive handcuffs, which were donated to the Cultural Center in 1989 by a non-Indian man who described their use to Bobbi Rahder, former director of the Haskell Cultural Center & Museum. “He told us they were used to restrain captured Indian children who were being taken to boarding schools,” says Rahder. The middle-age white man said his father had the handcuffs for years but that he no longer wanted to have them in his possession. “He seemed relieved to get rid of them,” Rahder recalls.

I made many phone calls, but was unable to track down the man, who is said to have lived in Lawrence. According to Rahder, he failed to respond to messages they had left him over the years, and he has not been seen at Haskell since the day he brought the handcuffs to the Cultural Center. “It was all very vague. He didn’t tell us how his father came to have the handcuffs. He showed up one day and donated them to the Center,” she says.

Mysterious donations are common at the Cultural Center. Rahder has witnessed scores of non-Indian donors dropping off important—and often poignant—historical artifacts relating to Haskell. Last year, Roger Bollinger of Pennsylvania donated an 1880s leather-bound photo album containing photos and corresponding identifications of Haskell’s very first students in 1884. This album represents the only known identifiable photos from that inaugural class. Bollinger knew little of Haskell and had no idea how the album came to be in his family’s possession. A supporter of education and cultural understanding, he decided tom donate the album to Haskell.

The handcuffs, however, were different, notes Rahder, who took them from the man. “I was shocked and afraid to touch them,” she recalls.

She says she immediately contacted administrative and spiritual leaders at the school for guidance on handling the handcuffs. Leaders at Haskell were overwhelmed by the brutality of the tiny handcuffs, she noted.

Girty, of the Cherokee Nation, who is a Cherokee language instructor at Haskell and a number of other elders and leaders, conducted a modest ceremony the next day at the school’s medicine fire. His wife, Frances, of the Creek and Choctaw Nations, provided a tiny handmade quilt in which the handcuffs were reverently wrapped before being stored in the Cultural Center’s archives. The handcuffs remained in storage for more than 20 years.

Although the Cultural Center displays a number of artifacts related to the harsh treatment of early Indian students at Haskell, the handcuffs were simply too painful to be addressed, opined Rahder. She says elders blessed the handcuffs and instructed her to put them away. She did as she was told, trusting that students and faculty would one day decide on the appropriate treatment of this painful artifact. The handcuffs languished in the archives of the center until this past summer.

As word of the handcuffs began to leak out over the past few years, students and faculty began discussing the importance of acknowledging their existence and putting them on display. For whatever reason, no one at the school has been willing to take the lead in the handling of this powerful artifact, but with the approval of Haskell administration, Girty agreed to unwrap them for ICTMN.

For Lackey the handcuffs are a tangible example of the painful history between Native people and the U.S. “The history of our genocide has been so swept under the rug by the mainstream. People need to see the impact that these policies had on us,“ she  says.

According to Girty, who was a student at Haskell in 1959, there are many stories of the brutal means used by authorities to bring and keep students at school in its early days. For instance, reservation authorities would hold back Native families’ food rations if they refused to allow children to be sent to early boarding schools, he noted. “If those handcuffs could talk, they would tell some terrible stories,” he says.

Steve Prue, spokesman for Haskell, says there are no immediate plans regarding how the handcuffs will be presented to the public, nor how they will be displayed. He agrees with students that the handcuffs are an appropriate item to be included in displays of other Haskell artifacts at the Cultural Center. “It’s good to have these sorts of things on display in the Cultural Center,” he says. “They tell the story of who paid the price for us to be here now.”

(via rematiration-deactivated2013111)

deluxvivens:

adailyriot:

homelands of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (Choctaw, Muskogee/Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminoles) prior to the Trail of Tears.

southeast represent.

deluxvivens:

adailyriot:

homelands of the “Five Civilized Tribes” (Choctaw, Muskogee/Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminoles) prior to the Trail of Tears.

southeast represent.

(via deluxvivens-deactivated20130417)

moniquill:

digatisdi:

Okay so I’m really happy with the glass mixing bowls I purchased… It’s just… I can’t help but feel that this bowl is a bit unnecessary. I can’t even begin to fathom a situation in which I’d need to mix together a maximum of 37 millilitres of something.

I have like twenty of those in my house; I very seldom use them for cooking (sometimes I’ll throw a spice in there if it’s something that I need to add later in a recipe. It makes me feel all food networky) but mostly I use them for holding different colors of beads while beading; the curved sides make it super easy to pick up one bead at a time with the needle.
There’s also just the right size for one egg yolk.

They’re really good for making small amounts of glaze or melting just enough chocolate or caramel for a serving of ice cream.

moniquill:

digatisdi:

Okay so I’m really happy with the glass mixing bowls I purchased… It’s just… I can’t help but feel that this bowl is a bit unnecessary. I can’t even begin to fathom a situation in which I’d need to mix together a maximum of 37 millilitres of something.

I have like twenty of those in my house; I very seldom use them for cooking (sometimes I’ll throw a spice in there if it’s something that I need to add later in a recipe. It makes me feel all food networky) but mostly I use them for holding different colors of beads while beading; the curved sides make it super easy to pick up one bead at a time with the needle.

There’s also just the right size for one egg yolk.

They’re really good for making small amounts of glaze or melting just enough chocolate or caramel for a serving of ice cream.

skyliting

blackraincloud:

watermelonsmileinspiration:

I need white people to stop pretending consent was possible during slavery […] 

Karnythia,  laying it down with righteousness on Juneteenth — the truth about slavery and its lingering effects on America.  (via paradiscacorbasi)

It’s a shame you couldn’t be more respectful about this. I am Cherokee. And for anyone who talks about their “race” being brutalized, it makes me laugh, really. No one /actually/ cares anymore, even the people I know personally on reservations, which, y’all aren’t stuck on, also, where’s your tribal court that gets nothing done? The white court system in this country is on your side.

Apparently you were given the opportunity to serve your country and go to college and study, of all things, history. (I applaud you, because I can’t afford to go.) At which I’m sure you had many a stuffy, white professor who masturbated to the rapist founding fathers… but I’m sure you payed that no mind.

Please have more respect when you write such things. The obscene language is just overpowering and destroys any respect I could have had for you.

And this is why I’m blogging about the Tulsa shootings today. NDNs, especially Cherokee and other former slave-holding tribes, y’all need to do something about the violent hatred of Black people in your communities. We HAVE to talk about this.

sparklekaz

Native American Medicine Women

deluxvivens:

sparklekaz:

The Medicine Woman
The unity of all life, is a theme that runs through the myths of the creation of the Native North American world. Native American peoples believe that the Earth is female. She gives birth to all the animals, birds, insects, human beings and plants, and continues to offer them healing from her abundant store. Her life force is imbued equally in minerals, plants, and animals, including humankind. Different species are interlinked, so that a plant for example can offer a human healing, but in return the human must care for the plant.

Healing in this tradition involves maintaining and if necessary restoring the natural balance in the land and people, a harmony that operates on the spiritual as well as on the mental and physical planes. Medicine in the Native North American world means power or energy.

A Medicine Women is therefore healer, teacher, preacher and weaver of magic. Jamie Sams, a Native American shaman of Cherokee and Seneca descent explains: “When we look at the idea of Medicine, we have to embrace the total person, the body, the heart and the mind and spirit. When these parts are out of balance, there is a need for healing” A person’s medicine is that power which is generated by his or her own talents and strengths, used in a positive way to achieve the right path in life, a path that is called the Beauty Way.

Medicine Women have always been as prevalent as Medicine Men among the Native American peoples. Even where there is a Medicine Man, it is his wife who is keeper of the herb, plant and tree lore that is central to the healing tradition, and who will prepare the herbs for smudging and create healing potions and salves.

A family might have a strong tradition of Medicine Women who inherit the role, or a women may be chosen as a gifted child who might be trained by a practicing Medicine Woman. But in every case, the calling of the initiate is confirmed in a special dream, which is sometimes induced by fasting or a period of solitude. In the dream, the spirit of an animal, a plant or one of the goddess/spirit women imparts secret healing knowledge that can only be validated by the Medicine Women of the people.

The Medicine Women’s training is not complete until middle age. For healing wisdom does not involve just a knowledge of healing plants; it is a connection with the living spirits of the trees, the herbs and the wise ancestors. An initiate learns to read the cause of imbalance or missing strength from the aura of a sick or distressed person, and to identify the plant whose aura reflects the missing quality or antidote. The process therefore involves intuitive and clairvoyant powers, and the ability to contact The Ancestors to call down their healing energies.

Because women were revered as daughters of Grandmother Spider Woman, Medicine Women were once asked to make shields for warriors or those who traveled far away, or to endow the shields with power using special chants.

Modern Native American Medicine Women hold the repository of ancient secrets and acts as a powerful cohesive force through difficult times, teaching the ways ways of the ancestors to those of the young who are willing to listen. They have also increasingly handed on their wisdom to other nations, holding moon lodges where women can learn to harmonise with their own cycles, to gather herbs for healing potions and to smudge away their own imbalance. To learn more about the ways of the Amerindian wise women, I can heartily recommend the book ‘Medicine Women’, by Lynn Andrews.

I hope that you enjoy reading this post as much as I did learning about the ways of the Native American Medicine Women, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it and would be happy to answer any questions you might have.


Love and Light

…wait.


There’s a Cherokee/Seneca medicine woman talking about the “beauty way” *and* there’s a rec for lynn andrews’ medicine woman?

I’m no expert but I thought the “beauty way” was a Navajo concept.

And Lynn Andrews was called out as a fraud by native people literally decades ago.

And there is no single one “way” that medicine people do anything across all 500+ native tribes. Native people are not a monolith.

I rarely see such appropriation and commodification so blatantly, but I’m not suffering alone here.

For more Native criticism of appropriation of spirituality, i suggest “Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sundances.”

(via deluxvivens-deactivated20130417)

svnoyi:

An old white guy once told the children of his neighborhood, ”A battle is happening within me – a terrible battle between two wolves. One wolf is of a weird desire to pretend to not be white, to claim an ethnicity I know nothing about, to perpetrate racism, and to continue genocide; the other  of a desire to not be a shitty person…This same battle is happening  inside of each of you, and inside every other person as well.” The  children thought for a moment and one asked, “Which wolf will win?” to  which the old guy replied, “”The one you choose to feed.”

svnoyi:

An old white guy once told the children of his neighborhood, ”A battle is happening within me – a terrible battle between two wolves.
One wolf is of a weird desire to pretend to not be white, to claim an ethnicity I know nothing about, to perpetrate racism, and to continue genocide; the other of a desire to not be a shitty person…This same battle is happening inside of each of you, and inside every other person as well.”
The children thought for a moment and one asked, “Which wolf will win?” to which the old guy replied, “”The one you choose to feed.”

(via moniquill)

blackraincloud
More, though, is going on here, which is the sometimes heart-stopping recognition on the part of leaders of a slave-owning nation that many of those slaves who are so easy to think of as being THEM are in fact US. To be blunt, a history of modern slavery is also a history of rape. To be a slave among the Cherokees was to be sexually available to those who controlled your life. By the 1890s, a legal distinction between the Freedmen and those who were Cherokee “by blood” emerged, but in the moral universe such a distinction was hard to make, and even today the claim of those in the Cherokee majority who say they are primarily interested in maintaining their nation for those who can verify that they have Cherokee lineage rings hollow alongside the murky history of violence that Cherokee slaves and their descendants have inhabited. Such claims fail to rise to the level of those earlier Cherokees who understood that the tragic absurdity of reconciling a nation to its history of slavery requires wisdom and compassion, not insulting and ridiculous appeals to faulty membership requirements and the poses of victimhood.

“Cherokees flee the moral high ground over Freedmen” by Robert Warrior at indiancountrynews.net (via liquornspice)

(via educationforliberation)

blackraincloud
liquornspice:

“@HarvardNAP Harvard Native 
Come to “Can African-American Freedmen be Cherokee?” Thursday, October 27 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Can… http://fb.me/CURQxWF5”

Fly on the wall powers, ACTIVATE!

liquornspice:

@HarvardNAP Harvard Native

Come to “Can African-American Freedmen be Cherokee?” Thursday, October 27 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Can… http://fb.me/CURQxWF5

Fly on the wall powers, ACTIVATE!

counterftnoire
counterftnoire:

This was an amazing and heartbreaking read.


“This beautifully written book tells the haunting saga of a quintessentially American family. It is the story of Shoe Boots, a famed Cherokee warrior and successful farmer, and Doll, an African slave he acquired in the late 1790s. Over the next thirty years, Shoe Boots and Doll lived together as master and slave and also as lifelong partners who, with their children and grandchildren, experienced key events in American history—including slavery, the Creek War, the founding of the Cherokee Nation and subsequent removal of Native Americans along the Trail of Tears, and the Civil War. This is the gripping story of their lives, in slavery and in freedom. 

Meticulously crafted from historical and literary sources, Ties That Bind vividly portrays the members of the Shoeboots family. Doll emerges as an especially poignant character, whose life is mostly known through the records of things done to her—her purchase, her marriage, the loss of her children—but also through her moving petition to the federal government for the pension owed to her as Shoe Boots’s widow. A sensitive rendition of the hard realities of black slavery within Native American nations, the book provides the fullest picture we have of the myriad complexities, ironies, and tensions among African Americans, Native Americans, and whites in the first half of the nineteenth century.”
- From UC Press

counterftnoire:

This was an amazing and heartbreaking read.


“This beautifully written book tells the haunting saga of a quintessentially American family. It is the story of Shoe Boots, a famed Cherokee warrior and successful farmer, and Doll, an African slave he acquired in the late 1790s. Over the next thirty years, Shoe Boots and Doll lived together as master and slave and also as lifelong partners who, with their children and grandchildren, experienced key events in American history—including slavery, the Creek War, the founding of the Cherokee Nation and subsequent removal of Native Americans along the Trail of Tears, and the Civil War. This is the gripping story of their lives, in slavery and in freedom.

Meticulously crafted from historical and literary sources, Ties That Bind vividly portrays the members of the Shoeboots family. Doll emerges as an especially poignant character, whose life is mostly known through the records of things done to her—her purchase, her marriage, the loss of her children—but also through her moving petition to the federal government for the pension owed to her as Shoe Boots’s widow. A sensitive rendition of the hard realities of black slavery within Native American nations, the book provides the fullest picture we have of the myriad complexities, ironies, and tensions among African Americans, Native Americans, and whites in the first half of the nineteenth century.”
- From UC Press

so-treu

Cherokees flee the moral high ground over Freedmen

liquornspice:

The moral case against the Cherokees is straightforward. As a duly constituted nation in the nineteenth century, they legally embraced and promoted African slavery, a position they maintained after Removal to Indian Territory in the 1830s. The vast majority of Cherokees could not afford slaves, as was also the case throughout the American South, and historians of Cherokee slavery have demonstrated that some aspects of the Cherokee social world gave a different, less negative character to being enslaved by wealthy Cherokees rather than wealthy whites. Make no mistake, though. No one is on record as having volunteered to become a Cherokee slave. History records plenty of Cherokee slaves attempting to escape to freedom, as well as Cherokee slave revolts.

The institution of slavery was for Cherokees, as it has been for all people who practice it, morally and politically corruptive, and many citizens of this Native slaving nation knew it. Stories like that of the children of Shoeboots and Doll, a Cherokee slaveowner and his black concubine/wife, whose father risked his reputation as a war hero in petitioning for their recognition as Cherokees provides a picture of this ambiguity, but the cruelty, sexual violence, and physical degradation of modern slavery under Cherokees like James Vann is just as unambiguous (both are captured magnificently by University of Michigan scholar Tiya Miles in her 2005 book Ties that Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom).

The Cherokee Nation officially emancipated all slaves in 1863. The 1866 treaty that subsequently enfranchised these former slaves resulted in an amendment to the Cherokee Constitution that same year. That amendment reads: “All native born Cherokees, all Indians, and whites legally members of the Nation by adoption, and all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months from the 19th day of July, 1866, and their descendants, who reside within the limits of the Cherokee Nation, shall be taken and deemed to be, citizens of the Cherokee Nation.” All of this was as a moral victory for those Cherokees who understood that institutionalizing slavery created moral implications that could only be addressed on moral grounds. That is, formal slaves need not just freedom, but also the protection of citizenship. How else, after all, can those who have lost so much expect to gain their lives without a context in which they can rebuild their lives?

More, though, is going on here, which is the sometimes heart-stopping recognition on the part of leaders of a slave-owning nation that many of those slaves who are so easy to think of as being THEM are in fact US. To be blunt, a history of modern slavery is also a history of rape. To be a slave among the Cherokees was to be sexually available to those who controlled your life. By the 1890s, a legal distinction between the Freedmen and those who were Cherokee “by blood” emerged, but in the moral universe such a distinction was hard to make, and even today the claim of those in the Cherokee majority who say they are primarily interested in maintaining their nation for those who can verify that they have Cherokee lineage rings hollow alongside the murky history of violence that Cherokee slaves and their descendants have inhabited. Such claims fail to rise to the level of those earlier Cherokees who understood that the tragic absurdity of reconciling a nation to its history of slavery requires wisdom and compassion, not insulting and ridiculous appeals to faulty membership requirements and the poses of victimhood.

YES! This is my main point!  That people are talking about Freedmen as if we’re some separate, less-than group separate from “Real Indians.”  But we ARE you! We don’t even have to talk about enrollment! I personally want NO PARTS of your tribal membership. But how bout Native folks just try TALKING TO FREEDMEN AS FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.  I’ve read from Cherokees who’ve never even TALKED to a single Freedman descendant about this issue yet still say it’s just about money or whatever other bullshit stereotype. Seriously, Step 1: Respect Black people as human beings. From what I’ve seen on tumblr, some of y’all still got a looooong ways to go before you reach that step.

Precisely. The bits about money & benefits ignore the reality that Freedmen descendants are people & thus individuals each with their own reasons for wanting to stay a part of the Cherokee nation.

(via blackraincloud)