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An unmet national responsibility

Thank you, BDN, for last weekend’s editorial, “U.S. shares in horrors of indigenous schools.”

The Trail of Tears on this side of the border did not end with the forced relocation of our indigenous people to reservations far from their ancestral homes. For thousands of children, it led to U.S. government boarding schools where they often were physically abused in a futile effort to “Americanize” them by stripping them of their culture and language.

Capt. Richard Pratt., who founded the first U.S. residential school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1879, described his personal view of the intent of U.S. policy in a paper he read at an 1892 convention. It begins:

“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and that high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”

For an unknown number of children, who succumbed to mistreatment, disease or in a desperate attempt to escape, their trail ended in a grave, a resting place for “tiny bones,” as they are called by First Nation people in Canada.

The graves of hundreds of children have been located in that country, and the Canadian government has apologized publicly for the inhumane policy that led to their deaths. In the U.S. there has been no similar public apology. Legislative language was quietly stuffed in a defense bill more than 10 years ago, passed by Congress, and then signed by President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, the “tiny bones” remain buried here, along with our humanity and an unmet national responsibility to acknowledge this indefensible act against America’s indigenous people.

Bridget and Mark Woodward


We can’t pretend it didn’t happen

I am sad and disgusted that Maine has chosen to cancel some of the  tall ships events.

This is part of our history and heritage. There is not a single scrap of land on this planet that hasn’t been taken, conquered, fought for, won and lost. There is not a single race or group of people that haven’t taken part in this. It’s the history of humanity. We can not ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen. Also there is not one person alive today that took part.

Stop trying to rewrite history. Accept it for what it is, and learn from it.

Sean Bremer


Correcting historic wrong on gaming

I believe Gov. Janet Mills correctly vetoed the gaming bill because it would probably lose in the courts, saving the state time and money.

However, Native Americans have experienced systemic racism from the start. In my opinion, the state of Maine has practiced this by voters only giving white, out-of-state corporations approval to run casinos. It is time for the Maine Legislature to correct this abuse.

John Kaiser