Schmidt introduces legislation to raise awareness of Native American history

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LANSING, Michigan— State Sen. Wayne Schmidt introduced legislation on Wednesday to raise awareness of Michigan’s Indian boarding school history and encourages the State Board of Education to include the materials in statewide curriculum standards.

“As a survivor of Holy Childhood Indian Residential School and as ‘Anishinaabe Mukwa Dodem’, on behalf of my family and my community, I want to emphasize the importance of this legislation for all survivors,” said Benedict Hinmon, whose spirit name is “Kushmuncie” (Kingfisher) and who is an elder among the Little Traverse Bay Odawa Indian bands living in Petoskey. “The devastating effects of boarding schools cannot be erased or forgotten. Those of us who survived continue to rebuild our lives every day. Every child matters!

The bill was introduced during “Mukwa Giizis”, the Bear Moon month. Bears represent medicine and healing in Native American culture, and tribal stakeholders have identified this month as an appropriate month to move forward on this important issue.

“I’m the last generation of my family to go to residential school, which was located in Harbor Springs,” said Meridith Kennedy of the Little Traverse Bay Odawa Indian Bands, living in Alanson.

“Ten years ago I recovered the remains of my ancestors from the same school grounds my dad and I went to – and more of my ancestors have been found in 2020. For families of survivors of the Residential schools are part of our modern history and shape who we are. This legislation offers the opportunity to heal and make our great nations stronger by acknowledging the past and moving forward in the right direction.

Senate Bill 876 would encourage the State Board of Education to include the history of Indian boarding schools in the state’s recommended curriculum standards for students in grades eight through 12. Many Michigan schools teach by these standards. Although these standards contain aspects of Native American history, supporters of the legislation say they are not strong enough.

“It’s important to recognize the fact that Indian boarding schools existed in our state — even as recent as the mid-1980s,” Schmidt, R-Traverse City, said. “Working with tribal leaders, educators, and residential school survivors and their families, we introduced this legislation so that this dark part of our state’s and nation’s history will not be forgotten, nor repeated.”

Senator Jeff Irwin, who is a member of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians and a lead co-sponsor of the legislation, agreed and added that the treatment of Native American families and children should not be overlooked in the history books of the nation. ‘State.

“Michigan’s Indian boarding schools were created to destroy tribal culture and erase native languages,” said Irwin, D-Ann Arbor. “Michigan’s dark history of violence against tribal communities should be taught in our schools, especially the history of Indian boarding schools. These schools forcibly abducted children and trained them to reject and participate in the destruction of their own communities. »

SB 876 was referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Career Preparation.

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Editor’s note: A print-quality version of the above photograph is available by clicking on the image or by visiting Schmidt’s website and clicking “Photos” under the “In the News” tab.

Photo caption: The senses. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, and Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, welcomed Harbor Springs Holy Childhood Indian Residential School survivors and their families to the Michigan Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers introduced legislation to include lessons on the Indian boarding school. schools within state-recommended curriculum standards.

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