Published June 23, 2016
MILWAUKEE – Films like Burt Lancaster’s “Jim Thorpe, All American” and Steven Spielberg’s “Into the West,” do not conjure up their intended warm and hopeful feelings for author Roberta Capasso.
In her new book, “Sky Woman Lives in Me” she illuminates the heartbreaking events that occurred at the Carlisle Indian industrial Boarding School. Her great-grandmother was physically and emotionally abused at the institution becoming a victim of the US Government’s attempt to assimilate Native American children into the Euro-American White culture.
Capasso is one of many Native American descendants who have, are, or will struggle to deal with the tragic aftermath of a governmental experiment to destroy Native American cultures during the 19th and early 20th centuries. During this time, many children were forcefully taken from their families and abused to the point that many died, unable to ever return to their homes.
Combining personal stories, archival research, and direct accounts of her great-grandmother’s Carlisle experience, Capasso creates an emotional, but detailed snapshot of a tainted moment in our Nation’s history.
“What actually happened to my great-grandmother did not match with Carlisle’s records. The number of discrepancies were disturbing,” Capasso said.
In addressing her own painful acculturation generations after Carlisle closed its doors, Capasso hopes to inspire others to do the same and face their own histories.
“People need to know what happened to me and my family, so they can begin to understand the Native American plight,” Capasso said. “Indigenous and non-indigenous people need to reconcile with their past.”