50,000 Indian children never came home

Ms. Swenson talks about Dakota peoples in Canada, and how they've begun to heal from residential schools.

Things to think about: 

How can the U.S. help to repair the damage done through boarding schools?

Audio Chapters

DL: So you have quite a large family north of here, too.

LS: Yes.

DL: I suppose they were able to handle their language and their ways in a way that was more… they could preserve it better.

LS: Well, even there, they call them, not boarding schools, they call them something else. What’s sad is there, the Canadian government just paid a lot of the residential school students – they were called residential schools. The kids that went to them got a big payment, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

DL: In reparations.

LS: Yes.

DL: I heard about that.

LS: Because 50,000 Indian children never came home. Ain’t that sad. So here [in the U.S.] at least, they came home. But I went to – now this ain’t part of the story, but in Canada, it’s called Maple Creek, they have Healing and Medicine International Day up there, and it’s usually in September. And we decided to go. And they’ve kind of got rolling hills like that, and there were teepee’s as far as you could see. You go down this valley and they had one big tent and then you look over here and they had seven teepees of healing. And they had invited medicine men, medical doctors, people from every tribe, and even non-Indians to this Healing and Medicine Day. I think it was the second year that we attended. And they were going to decide at that time whether they were going to let the Indian medicine be known to the public. Anyway, they had decided at that time that they weren’t, because they said it would lose its healing value, or the strength of it because they were going to be selling it. So they decided at that time they weren’t going to. But you go there, and it’s just kind of like one big family. You sit down on the hills and they’d feed you and everything. But you’d hear stories from last year – people were healed from cancer, from AIDS. They had medicine men from South America that healed. And they had one man that would stand there from the tee pee, all the seven teepees, nobody could go back there unless you wanted healing. So you’d go to this guy and you’d tell him what you want or what you needed, and he’d tell you which tee pee to go to. So you’d hear stories about that. And then you’d hear sad stories about the rapes and stuff. The men, that was part of their healing, to tell their story of what happened in the boarding schools. And the women and the girls. It was sad. And that was a way to bring about some of the healing by telling their stories.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator LaVonne Swenson Interviewer Deborah Locke made in Morton, Lower Sioux Community, MN | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. 50,000 Indian children never came home May 23, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1134

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.