Reflections – The Legacy of Continuing Loss…

Carol A. Hand

A child kidnapped from the village road –
lured by strangers with the promise of a new adventure –
a ride in an automobile, a luxury rarely seen here.
He awoke hours later in a foreign place far from home –
held captive in a federal Indian boarding school.
He still carries the scars more than 70 years later –
one visible on his hand where he was struck on that first day
for speaking the only language he knew, Ojibwe;
the other hidden – a deep loneliness and longing for the home, family and culture
he vaguely remembered and imagined during the six decades he spent among strangers

***

Carlisle_pupils

Carlisle Indian Industrial School – 1879-1918 (Wikipedia)

***

All the child welfare system could do
was take a mother’s children away.
No one ever asked why she always had tears in her eyes.
Although her daughter cried for her beautiful mother every day,
no one ever asked what her mother needed to heal.
So the young girl spent her childhood with strangers,
a grieving mother mourned, and the White strangers felt virtuous.
The Ojibwe community lost yet another child to county removal
and the child welfare system closed the case, its job complete.

***

Before-After Indian Borading School npr

Before and After (California Indian Education.Org)

***

Only some of the many lost finally returned home in their third, fifth or seventh decade
to discover the community forever changed as close-knit ties had begun to fade,
suffering from the continuing loss of its children to foster care, adoption or school
year after year throughout the centuries of tightening colonial rule.
Yet I found many reasons to hope.
Despite enduring structures of colonial hegemony,
memories and stories of long ago, clear visions of what yet could be
provide blueprints for reweaving an inclusive healing circle of caring community.

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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67 Responses to Reflections – The Legacy of Continuing Loss…

  1. Wow! I saw a movie on this and was shocked!!! Such loss

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Silvia TIC says:

    I have no words to say how much all this hurts me. I have full respect for those who still have compassion and hope in their hearts after this and other similar atrocities caused by those who think theirs is the only “truth”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your heartfelt compassionate comments, Silvia. I struggled for hours with these ending thoughts, asking myself for my honest response to the consequences of cruelty I’ve read about and witnessed. Can I live in anger about a past I cannot change, or resign myself to hopelessness believing that things can never change? It’s not that simple. I have also witnessed great kindness and heroic efforts to create hope and healing. Often it’s the people with little in terms of financial wealth or social status who breathe hope and love into what they can do. Suffering seems to have polished and brightened their spirits. We shouldn’t excuse or ignore atrocities born of fear and ignorance, but we can’t let them limit our capacity for caring action.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thanks for sharing this insight! It can probably be applied to most wounds when I think about it. It takes a lot to stay focused on possibilities instead of regrets…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you so much for sharing such important insights, Fearless Analyst. It is a choice to be made moment by moment some days. I’d like to say it gets easier with practice, but it seems the atrocities are ever more frequent these days…

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol, the racism and indifference run deep. So many injuries inflicted, then and now. You touch the heart of the matter, as you so often do.

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments, Michael. It seems violence has always been present, as has the ability to look away if it doesn’t affect us personally. But there have also been many notable exceptions.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Carol, even though actual violence has been reduced here in the US, the threat of violence seems to be great. After a while it becomes exhausting. At the same time, there is relative safety. A strange, difficult dichotomy.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. amommasview says:

    Heartbreaking… it’s the same over here with our Aboriginal and Torres Straight communities… the families were torn apart, the missionaries did their thing and cultures got destroyed. And now everyone blames them for drinking…

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s so good to hear from you, A Momma’s View. Thank you so much for your important comments about the brutal oppression of Indigenous peoples in Australia and the continuing discrimination they experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pat says:

    Dear blogging friend, I recently listened to an NPR program about ambiguous loss–a loss that occurs without understanding; worse, without meaning. So much pain, so many broken hearts. Maybe physical presence and psychological absence. Or maybe psychological presence and physical absence. Either way, grief in the end, when we lose loved ones to powerful forces and we can’t save them. Your words are often beautiful creatures to me, and I thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s always a pleasure to hear from you, Pat. Thank you for sharing your insights and kind words. I miss your posts – the depth, profundity, and eloquence of your vision and insights. I send my best wishes to you, dear friend. ❤

      Like

  6. Your words hit my heart blow after blow like something to stabbing with a knife and ripping out pieces of which is what happened to these families. How cruel mankind can be, and I just never understand how and why anyone could do such things to others. And then how do the plundered ever heal??? Are the pictures some of your family members? Is this story part of your own personal
    family history? Love, N 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your compassionate, heartfelt comments, Natalie. These are among the stories I gathered during my research study, although my mother spent several pivotal childhood years in a Catholic Indian boarding school. She rarely spoke of her experiences, but they left her with a deep sense of shame about herself and her heritage. The pictures are from other boarding schools. (Links are embedded if you want to check out the stories that accompanied them.) Again, thank you dear friend. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are so very welcome Carol! I’m so sorry about your mother’s anguish! As absolutely heartbreaking as they are I’m glad you share these stories. There are those who will be helped by them and everyone needs to know such things happened so they can encourage others to never ever do such awful things to their fellow man‼️ God bless your for your courage and compassion❣😘 Love and hugs my friend 🌹

        Liked by 2 people

  7. nux says:

    its very deep pain. No words to describe thank you for sharing this, and you have put it in a form of poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kathy says:

    Profound and very moving.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sha'Tara says:

    The Earthian species: by and large, a cruel, brutish, ignorant, closed minded, bigoted, selfish,greedy and murderous lifeform. The sad part is, the more advanced and technologically prominent the civilization, the more it demonstrates its most inhumane traits. This judgment is correct, exceptions only serving to illustrate and prove the rule.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your honest, thoughtful comments, Sha”Tara. Although I agree that many behave in the ways you describe, I don’t believe it’s our nature. If you place any species in cages and subject them to control and abuse, they may grow into monstrous creatures without conscience, compassion or imagination..

      Like

      • Sha'Tara says:

        Yes, and as I’ve observed over the long years of societal decadence, the people of earth seem to only thrive within their cages of beliefs: racism, misogyny, elitism, patriotism, exploitation, bigotry, entitlement, conquest, rape and genocide. There are exceptions, and your people (possibly mine, the Celts of very long ago) lived within a free-er, less artificial, less dictatorial environment which wasn’t perfect: there were local wars, raids, blood sacrifices, good and bad “chiefs” and “kings” or “queens” and “shamans” or “druids” – but it was a more natural life, not endangering its own survival. Civilization so-called is what made the great oppressive and earth-eating empires; the ones that swept the planet and destroyed indigenous lifestyles. They systematically developed the great cages as they created the cities and borders that stopped the free movement of people over the land -for that was the only way they could control the people. That this civilization is doomed, most haven’t caught on yet, going through the motions on a daily basis as if it was just going to fix itself and make itself all better. But as Helen Caldicott observed lately, this planet is now in the intensive care ward – and I add to that: but there is no one there to heal her wounds or even attach an IV. We cannot go back, only forward, and forward equals more of what creates the Great Dystopian Society all of mankind now lives in. Conclusion? Those who were destroyed because they stood in the path of “progress” of one form or another are about to be avenged. The conquerors have reached the edge of the eternal abyss and there is not turning back for them either.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Perhaps as you say, Sha’Tara, we are doomed but your words make me realize the cost for all I love, including my daughter and grandchildren. While I breathe, I need to do what I can to live according to other values and raise awareness about the urgency of embracing other alternatives…

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Rajagopal says:

    It is painful, Carol, to even reflect on atrocities of humanity on humanity and you do it with a tremendous measure of poise and dignity. Education, together with life’s trials and tribulations have a sublimating effect on the soul which can ripple across generations. Inequalities and atrocities on tribal and primitive communities around the world were probably influenced by exploitative aspects of caste system in India. Thanks to reformative initiatives of greats such as Gandhi, Ambedkar, Narayana Guru, and Vivekananda, societies have since transformed to a great extent, even though harmful residues still remain which occasionally rear their ugly heads at unpredictable intervals. One hopes these will also be swept away, both in India and around the world. Let us not lose infinite hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comments are always a delightful mix of wisdom and erudition, Raj. We do need to keep hope alive, especially in times like these “when harmful residues … rear their ugly heads”. ❤

      Like

  11. sojourner says:

    I echo the comments above, Carol.

    I am sorry for what has been perpetrated on you, your mother and others.

    But I am thankful that you, and a few others, have begun to open my eyes to this horrific truth.

    Somewhere deep inside of me, and fading away day by day, there is a glimmer of hope that humanity will, someday soon, finally rise up as a collective and put an end to this worldwide curse, which has been passed down from one generation to the next for eons now.

    If this curse is allowed to continue on, with no end in sight, then I can see little hope for humanity or this planet. It must be eradicated, and soon!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dave, I apologize for this very belated reply. Somehow I missed this in the flurry of responding to comments and I want you to know I value your insights a great deal.

      Like you, I hope that each of us will choose peace, respect for others and the earth, and kindness in our thoughts, words, and actions. I’m not sure transformation will come from rising up as a collective until it is nurtured from within by enough people to tip the balance. It’s hard enough for me to consciously remember to try to hold center whenever I interact with, or think about, others in a relatively “safe” environment. I wonder how many people can see through the fear and divisiveness being sold by the powers that be and make the effort to live according to a higher sense of principles…

      Liked by 1 person

      • sojourner says:

        Carol, no need for an apology! I understand, with the amount of comments you get, how you could miss one every once in a while.

        I agree, Carol! If this much needed transformation is ever to come, then it will have to begin with the individual before it can spread to a collective large enough to change this world system from its age old insane, evil ways.

        I hope a worldwide catastrophic event will not be needed, first, before this process begins. Some days I am hopeful, and other days I am not.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I also hope it doesn’t take a massive catastrophe, Dave. Tragically, localized catastrophes are ever-present. I wonder if the lessons include: things don’t matter, we need to take better care of the earth and each other, we need to learn how to work together for the greater good of all our relations?

          Liked by 1 person

        • sojourner says:

          “I wonder if the lessons include: things don’t matter, we need to take better care of the earth and each other, we need to learn how to work together for the greater good of all our relations?”

          Yes! To me this is the awakening that must occur, individually, and then collectively.

          We have been divided so all of us could be controlled by a few.

          We have forgotten we are all connected as a family and this is our home, our only home in this form.

          And so we do need to learn, once again, “how to work together for the greater good of all our relations”

          Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Dave 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  12. sojourner says:

    Reblogged this on An Outsider's Sojourn II.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Our collective loss, our collective pain. And we wonder why peace and equality among our species remain elusive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, Rosaliene. We do all lose and suffer from cruelty even though we may not be the current, immediate targets. The old adage “Hurt people hurt people” proves to be true too often.

      Like

  14. isabellaesthermariarose says:

    How very sad, Carol. I never knew that such things had happened. Heart-breaking for both mother and child. I’m sorry to hear that your mother suffered similarly. I only wish I could heal all their pain. But I am sure that one day LOVE will overcome all darkness in our beautiful world. ♥♥♥

    Liked by 2 people

  15. There are not enough times to share this story that could change the sorow or the ending. The government displays little wisdom in it’s actions here and so many other places concerning it’s treatment of Native American peoples

    Liked by 1 person

  16. steelcityman says:

    The topic of your post wounds and every word is a twist of the knife, giving rise to the pain of loss and cruelty inflicted, that is so seldom recognised, particularly by the perpetrators who inflicted this upon people in the name of expanding empire and Christianity…RACISM by any other name is pure evil. I weep for your loss and suffering Carol…but…like the European Holocaust (which many are now denying !!) we need reminding, we need to remember, we need to feel the pain so we will ALWAYS remember man’s inhumanity to man. I feel we can only chip away, chip away at the evil that is racism, not making an immediate difference, but collectively applying pressure until the evil breaks …. I hope it will happen … it needs to happen for the sake of humanity. Carol you are a hero of mine and your words shine like a beacon, a rallying point for anyone who wants to make a difference in this segregated and unfair world … xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This actually brought tears to my eyes.
    I have no words. No words expect thank you for sharing. Much much love, Guilaine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Guilaine. I’m deeply grateful for your thoughtful, compassionate comments.

      (This is part of the preface for a book I’m working on about my research on Native American child welfare. I needed to distill the central issues and my gestalt impressions so I could figure out how to edit a 400-plus page manuscript. I’m sure you will understand that it’s not been an easy task to deal with the deep emotions this provokes and still find balance and honest reasons to still have hope.)

      I am always deeply touched by your work and send much love to you, too! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sha'Tara says:

      Anyone who has read Carol’s post owe themselves the time to watch the movie, “Rabbit Proof Fence.” Though the event in RPF happen in Australia, the pattern was the same throughout the US-Brit Empire. Native people had to be turned into white people or eliminated as a sub-human species.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. inesephoto says:

    It is so cruel to take children away from their parents. In Ireland, children were taken away from single mothers and raised in the Nun convents, where many of them died. This practice ended only in the 1970-80s, and I know some of these children who are now grown up. In the early Soviet Union, children were taken away so that parents could be sent to GULAG and work until they died. The same story – children taken away from their families, living in communities, taught some skills. Every country has their history of abuse 😦 Thank you for sharing, I wish this kind of history never repeats.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Annika Perry says:

    So much cruelty, so much heartache – humbling that one could return so many years later to try and rebuild. Very moving post, Carol.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Robbie says:

    “clear visions of what yet could be
    provide blueprints for reweaving an inclusive healing circle of caring community.”
    as always your beautiful words create hope:-)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. A writer from the East says:

    This is a very powerful post and made me feel very helpless as a person. So I cannot even begin to imagine how it was for that mother who lost her child and also for your mother either. I realize how your own past has shaped your present work on social justice issues, at a loss of words.
    Also what struck me the most from the above post is the lines, “a grieving mother mourned, and the White strangers felt virtuous.”
    It is strange how white races have perpetuated such horrifying crimes under a delusion that they are helping communities of people of color.
    Even today, I feel uncomfortable to note the obsession of white race’s adoption of children of color from from war torn or poor countries its just not right at any level because sooner or later that virtuousness grows into a steel barred cage for the child.

    Thank you for the wonderful work you do and also for helping us finding some glimmer of hope in this cruel world ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your important, thoughtful observations and insights, Saadia. It is difficult to speak honestly about the commodification of children of color by those who are privileged and see themselves as virtuous for “saving” poor suffering children. More lasting benefits would accrue for all children by ending the wars, resource exploitation, and oppression that cause suffering for families, communities, and nations. To separate children from the relationships, cultures, and environments that give their lives meaning often results in a life-long search for belonging and re-connection. These are not popular views as you know all too well.

      I appreciate your kind words and encouragement and send my best wishes to you. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Debra says:

    When will North Americans admit to the crimes of attempted and in some cases realized genocide? The pain remains and is still a reality for people. Some kind of recognition and attempt at restoration is well past due. I am so sorry for the actions of my ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Such crucial insights, Debra. Sadly, the apologies throughout the generations have been few and often empty. It’s a grief we all carry. The real tragedy is the continuing displacement, exploitation, and oppression of cultures around the world. Not only have we ignored the legacy of past trauma, we continue to impose it on the next generations…

      Liked by 1 person

  23. oldpoet56 says:

    I did not learn of the Carlisle school until I was in my late thirties. I am a white Christian male who detests all forms of racism an the things that were done to the Indian people here in the U.S. was disgusting. Of all people on this piece of God’s Earth the Native Americans have been treated the worse, then and now. The very least that the government in D.C. can do for your people is to make sure that there is no such thing as poverty/hunger within your Nations.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. oldpoet56 says:

    Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world and commented:
    I did not learn of the Carlisle school until I was in my late thirties. I am a white Christian male who detests all forms of racism an the things that were done to the Indian people here in the U.S. was disgusting. Of all people on this piece of God’s Earth the Native Americans have been treated the worse, then and now. The very least that the government in D.C. can do for your people is to make sure that there is no such thing as poverty/hunger within your Nations.

    Liked by 1 person

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