Gunnison, CO 81230

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Our campus community is invited to a presentation and conversation with Dr. Holly Norton of History Colorado, the lead researcher of The Native American Boarding School Research Program, Colorado House Bill 22-1327. HB1327 directed History Colorado to perform a number of activities in order to understand the impacts of the federal Indian boarding schools, particularly the Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School in Hesperus, Colorado, and the Teller Institute in Grand Junction. The work is summarized in FEDERAL INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOLS IN COLORADO: 1880-1920.


From the report:
"Not everything is written down. The boarding school superintendents were good bureaucrats, but also shrewd political players. They sent missives back to Washington to complain about buildings and supplies, offering excuses for not having more students. They didn’t always write down the names of the students, or the tribes that the students were affiliated with. You have to dig for that information. But if you want to know the exact number of potatoes that were eaten or the shoes that were worn, that information is there. American bureaucracy always accounts for the money spent, and the resources that the State hoards, when really those resources came from the very people they are oppressing.

And so you only ever get so close to a truth, to a history. The stories of children crying as their hair is cut come from the children as adults, not from the records of those doing the cutting. The records talk about lice and hygiene. We never hear what happens to the items that are confiscated from the children. It is too easy to imagine that beaded moccasins or a special shirt are simply thrown away, because those things weren’t perceived as having value but, rather,
were evidence of a 'dying race.'"

  • Karen McLean

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