With fingernails that shine like justice...

and a voice that is dark like tinted glass, she is fast, thorough and sharp as a tack. She is touring the facility and picking up slack...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Indigenous People's Day!!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

For Mom and Grandpa

There are many ways we interpret events: dates, times, demographics, statistics....Using these tools, we can get a general idea of what a particular period of time was like. Many times, however, this way of "seeing" neglects the humanity behind the circumstances.

Statistics do not have faces, names, identities. It is easy to dismiss the fact that real people, or in the case of Indian Boarding Schools, REAL CHILDREN, make up the substrate of these statistics.

My grandfather was one of those children. He went to The Sherman Indian Boarding School.

His long beautiful braids were cut. He was forbidden to speak his language or to sing native songs. He was not allowed to wear traditional dress or footwear, not even for ceremony. He was punished for drawing on a doll, decorating it in native style with a piece of coal, for his sister. He and his sister were not allowed to attend the funeral of their father who died of tuberculosis.

The Names of Sherman Project hopes to add dimension to this history. By listing the actual names, home towns and tribes of students, the project attempts to recover the "humanness" lost in the hundreds of rosters, numbers and statistics. The names represent real children who came from real homes, real families, with real hopes, dreams and identities.

Those children just happened to live in a time when people in positions of power believed the best solution to a changing American culture was to gather them together into military boarding schools, to change them, Americanize them, "civilize" them, train them to become citizens within the culture in power....to essentially erase all traces of their ancestry.

It seems that our countries leaders chose to ignore one thing: these children ALREADY HAD A CULTURE.

My Grandfather's name was Arthur Wesley Weddell.

He was a Wintu from Shasta County, Ca. He died on July 4th, 1943, at a sanatorium in Weimar, Ca from tuberculosis. He was buried in a numbered grave with no marker.