The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Tribal member talks on boarding schools

By Natalie Phetsamone/reporter

A Comanche Tribal member spoke to NE students Nov. 25 about largely ignored aspects of Native American history.

Academic advisor Marjeanna Burge discussed the troubled boarding school era that still haunts Native Americans.

“Children as young as 4 to 5 years old were taken great distances from their homelands, all elements of native identity stripped away, and Native American languages were forbidden,” she said.

Richard Henry Pratt, who founded one boarding school in 1879, was reported to have said, “Kill the Indian in him and save the man.” He was largely successful in what has been termed “cultural genocide,” Burge said.

“I’m only two generations removed from this,” she said. “It wasn’t very long ago.”

The trauma from this is still present. High rates of alcoholism, depression, suicide, abuse and violence among Native American people can be traced back to that time, Burge said.

Tribal Nations are sovereign nations categorized as domestic dependents. There are 564 federally recognized tribes.

Andrea Ospina, a foreign student, attended the presentation to learn more about Native American people.

“It was very exciting to learn about the diversity of Tribal Nations,” she said. “They are all very different and ethnically diverse.”

Members are dual citizens with the Tribal Nation and the U.S., but they have their own elected leaders, police, firefighters and court systems, Burge said. In fact, most of the U.S. Constitution was modeled after the Iroquois, Burge said.

The most important and misunderstood aspect of Tribal Nation/U.S. government relations is the Indian Trust Agreement, Burge said. Established in 1787, it guaranteed all future generations of American Indians health care and education to compensate for their territory loss, Burge said.

She also discussed more controversial issues. Native American women are depicted through popular media in a sexual manner. They suffer violent crimes at 3.5 times the rate of other women, and most of these crimes are committed by members of another race, Burge said.

Because most reservations are bleak and secluded, Burge said many end up as dumping grounds for nuclear waste.

Native Americans also face jurisdictional issues. Tribes have no authority over nonmembers, and states do not want to get involved. This creates a breeding ground for crimes and drug cartels, Burge said.

Burge is intent on spreading knowledge.

“There is so much information that we as Americans do not know about indigenous people even today,” she said. “It is critical to learn more about it.” 

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