Trump Administration’s Policy Allowing Taking Children from Parents Hits Nerve in Indian Country

Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School where some 227 American Indian died from diseases and arguably loneliness.

Published June 21, 2018

WASHINGTON — Prior to the president signing an executive order to end the taking of innocent children from their parents at the southern border of the United States hit a nerve among American Indian leaders.

A common theme among American Indians is the reference to Indian boarding schools where American Indian children were taken from their familial homes on the the pretense to take the Indian out of the person. The common phrase then was: “Kill the Indian, save the man.” It was an attempt to strip American Indians of their culture and traditional ceremonial practices. It is obvious the separating children from parents during the Indian boarding school era and now parellels are too great to ignore.

What American Indian leaders are saying abotu

Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians

Chickasaw Lt. Governor and President of the National Congress of American Indians Jefferson Keel:

“The forced separation of immigrant children from their families is simply immoral and harkens back to a dark period for many Native American families. For decades, the U.S. government stole Native children from their parents and forced them into boarding schools hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. Our communities know too well the intergenerational psychological trauma that will flow from the actions that the United States is taking today. Congress and the President should take heed of such abhorrent mistakes from the past and actually live the moral values this country proclaims to embody by immediately ending this policy and reuniting the affected children with their

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker

parents. Families belong together.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker:

“Cherokees know all too well the impact that federal law and policies can have on a people—the agony of breaking up families and having our children ripped away from us. Misguided federal policies and law led to the brutality of Cherokee Removal infamously known as the Trail of Tears where thousands of citizens, mostly children and the elderly, perished due to the harsh winter conditions of the trail. Other policies included the taking of Indian children and forcing them into boarding schools where their language, dress, and ways of life were prohibited. As Cherokees, we empathize with those families that have been similarly targeted and terrorized with brutal and dehumanizing policies established by the United States government. We need only look at this history to learn important lessons from destructive policies and to take action that allow people to flourish. In today’s enlightened world, more compassion and responsibility is needed from our national leaders. President Trump’s policy must be terminated immediately; otherwise, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I believe the United States of America is better than this, and children deserve to be with their mothers and fathers. They should never be victimized like this in political debate, as it creates permanent psychological and emotional damage. These kinds of policies were immoral and inhumane in the 1830’s when Native Americans were traumatized by forced removal  in America and it is just as immoral and inhumane today on our national borders, where the families being impacted are the indigenous people of Mexico.”

Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier

Cheyenee River Souix Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier:

“I often consider the Lakota Oyate as strong patriots and warriors that have taken up the cause of the United States of America. Despite the way we have been treated in our collective past. Our history together has been filled with death and destruction resulting in a devastated society that is doing its best to heal our wounds and look past our differences.

Recently, Americans have reacted with shock as they realize the actions their government has taken by breaking up families and incarcerating children by the hundreds. I am not shocked however. This country has witnessed this before. When the Americans came to this continent they brought with them slaves that they separated from their families far away. They then took our children away from us under the pretense that we do not know what is best for them.

Today, many Americans are again justifying the barbaric practice of incarcerating children to further political and financial goals. At what point does the United States have to realize they are the bad guys? The United States has woven a society of immigrants and Tribal nations under a beacon of hope. This is a dark time when our children will talk of the damage we have done to the fabric of that society.

The devastation done is nothing new to us, our people know the devastating effects that separation policies have on a generation of children that were removed from their families. Indian people are still recovering from the United States’ failed boarding schools in which religion was used as justification.  It shows a lack of morality to brandish faith as a justification to dehumanize the most sacred of us to walk this earth, the children.

Families are the most important foundation of society. It is a law of nature that family members protect each other and nurture what is best of humanity, love. To break that sacred bond between family is crime that has been done to my people and would never wish on another.

It is obvious the American government has failed the people of the United States as it has failed the treaties it has made with the Great Sioux Nation. The voices of reason are speaking and I have faith in the American people, I hope they do not continue to let myself and the rest of the world down. I hope they do the right thing without trying everything else first.”

Statement from the National Indian Child Welfare Association:

“The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) calls on the Trump Administration to acknowledge that ending the policy of systematically separating children from families at the border is not over until every child is reunited with their parents and found safe and unharmed. This National Refugee Day, we recognize the parallel between children who are separated from their families at the border and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Native communities know too well the devastating impact of trauma because of historical and contemporary policies, including the unnecessary removal of Native children from their families and communities, enacted by the U.S. and state governments. The president should recognize and seek to correct the short- and long-term problems that have already been caused by this inhumane policy.”


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