What Will Be Different for Native American Artists and Activists

7 PM – 9 PM

A public conversation with Noel G. Altaha + Diane Fraher + Muriel Miguel + Brian Young

Moderated by Sandy Grande, Professor of Education and Director, Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity, Connecticut College
Remarks by Rick Chavolla, Chair, American Indian Community House

Pre-talk Performance by Martha Redbone

Curated by Brian Tate

Native Americans bring sharp perspective to the issue of child separation, given 100 years of federally sanctioned abductions of Native children. The Boarding School Era began in 1879, with Capt. Richard H. Pratt’s fixation on forcibly “civilizing” kidnapped Native youth by cutting their hair, forbidding their use of Native language and customs, and severing their family bonds. Pratt’s motto – “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” – informed almost 150 such schools that followed, until they were closed in the 1970’s after years of abuses. From 1941 to 1967, the Adoption Program saw a third of Native children stolen from their homes to become adoptees or foster children to white families.

On the current forced separation of immigrant families, the National Congress of American Indians has said the practice is simply immoral and “harkens back to a dark period for many Native American families.” What is the status of Native families today? How can their knowledge guide us in understanding events today, and demanding different outcomes tomorrow?

Co-presented by The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Project Partner: American Indian Community House

The recent U.S. policy of separating and jailing immigrant families strikes at America’s image as a champion of diversity, democracy, and human rights. But the practice is not new, and it evokes historic episodes of state-sponsored xenophobia and bigotry. Today, as the deportations continue, as the fates of scores of immigrant children remain unknown, and as America confronts the resurgence of unbridled White Nationalism, it is worth asking: What can we learn from past traumas when political leaders used the power of government to define entire populations of people as security threats, non-citizens, or less than human?

Produced by The Tate Group