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The true impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples across the United States and Canada is indescribable. This era served as a legitimate attempt from the Canadian and United States government to, “kill the Indian, save the man.” Quoted from Richard Henry Pratt, an American military officer who served as the longtime superintendent at the infamous Carlisle Indian School in Carlisle, PA. The notion was meant to kill everything native about us, everything we know, everything we love. Take away our language, our ceremonies, our religion - our way of life, our connection to the earth, the connection to our families and to our people. Punishments were given out to non-conformers through physically, psychologically, and sometimes sexually abusive modes. They did not “save the man” by “killing the Indian”. Instead, created an entire generation of unheard, disregarded, and traumatized individuals. The recent discovery of 215 child remains at the Kamloops residential school site was the first real piece of undeniable evidence of the horrors that were faced at these schools, prompting governments to investigate. This number has since risen to over 7,000 child remains found at various residential school sites across the United States and Canada.

The trauma that did not start nor end with the residential school era. To even begin to understand the impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities, one must understand the significance of Generational trauma and its crippling hold on the people. Those traumatized individuals that survived the residential school era never had the opportunity or space to heal from their childhood experiences and would live on in their lives to have their own children. These children would then be subjected to various adverse childhood experiences in the home and grow into traumatized adults themselves with families and the cycle continues to perpetuate. Today, Generational trauma presents itself in various ways amongst our people through high rates of health disparities such as depression and substance abuse. Our youth being most at risk.

Nonetheless, our communities continue to persevere through resiliency. Resiliency that has long been upheld through various protective factors that are naturally embedded in our belief systems. All across Indian country, communities are collectively working towards healing from this dark time in history. Through your donations, you are not only contributing to a Happy Holidays for Seneca families in need, but also supporting the development of future community projects for Seneca youth. These projects will provide opportunities for pro social involvement, to serve as a positive influence against the inevitable adverse childhood experiences that come with generational trauma. It is our goal that with making these opportunities available, we can create an environment that protects and supports youth on their journey. 

For More Information on Residential Schools:

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