Native American history remembered and celebrated at the event

Kansas City Indian Center Food Pantry Coordinator Jason Swartley ends his presentation with a prayer during an event honoring Indigenous peoples hosted by Clay Countians for Inclusion at the Garrison School on Saturday, Nov. 5 2022 at Liberty.

Kansas City Indian Center Food Pantry Coordinator Jason Swartley ends his presentation with a prayer during an event honoring Indigenous peoples hosted by Clay Countians for Inclusion at the Garrison School on Saturday, Nov. 5 2022 at Liberty.

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On Saturday, Liberty’s Garrison School welcomed a few dozen visitors, to engage in a series of conversations about the ongoing struggle of Indigenous peoples.

The day saw a mix of heavy-hearted memories and urgent calls to action.

Gaylene Crouser, Hunkpapa and Oglala citizen and director of the Kansas City Indian Center, took to the stage to tearfully discuss how Indigenous peoples have been stripped of their culture. Society has a long way to go in its progress towards equality, she said.

“The education system in this country is woefully inadequate when it comes to talking about Indigenous peoples,” Crouser said. “It’s three pages in fourth grade and three pages in eighth grade…and then pretending we don’t exist anymore, but we do exist. And we are still here.

The event, titled “Recognizing History, Reclaiming Culture”, was organized by Clay counts for inclusion, an educational group of over 100 members. The seminar was held in honor of Native American Heritage Month and as part of an ongoing conversation about the treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Speakers from the Kansas City Indian Center, as well as author Pat Streng, gave presentations. Members of other groups, such as the Thidaware Native American Garden, were also present.

Many topics were highlighted, including concern over the effect that mascots such as Kansas City chiefs have on the treatment of Native American communities.

Kansas City Indian Center program director Jason Swartley wore a t-shirt with the iconic Chiefs crest on it. The word “NOPE” was pasted over it in bold, capital letters.

Swartley said teams that mimic Native American culture dehumanize people rather than honor them. He said the franchise does not work with local Native American groups to his knowledge, although he wants to.

“As long as there have been representations of Indigenous people, there have been misrepresentations of Indigenous people,” Swartley said. “It’s something that is harmful and has always had to be dealt with.”

Part of the Not in Our Honor coalition, Swartley and other locals demonstrate outside the stadium before games in hopes the team will make a change.

Swartley argued that making someone of another ethnicity a mascot would likely be considered offensive, although many organizations have claimed Native Americans as their team emblem. He also said Indigenous peoples are subject to higher levels of prejudice and violence.

Before Swartley, Crouser worried about how boarding schools, such as the Shawnee Indian Missioncreated a generational trauma.

“A friend of mine recently said that if you know a Native American, he’s either a residential school survivor, or a child of a residential school survivor, or a grandson of a residential school survivor. boarding school,” she said. said.

While the Kansas Historical Society recently announced that the Shawnee Indian Mission grounds would be searched for children who may have been buried there, Crouser said she wished the Shawnee tribe had been consulted during the process of initial planning. Now, she says, she hopes the children can finally be buried.

“There are families who are still waiting for their children to be honored,” Crouser said.

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Gaylene Crouser, executive director of the Kansas City Indian Center, gets emotional while speaking about Indigenous children in boarding schools during an event honoring Indigenous peoples hosted by Clay Countians for Inclusion at the Garrison School on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at Liberty. Emilie Curiel [email protected]

A leaflet placed on tables around the room highlighted the Indian Residential Schools Policy Truth and Healing Commission Act, a bill sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The law would require diligent searches of records and attempts to locate children buried in boarding schools.

Crouser spoke about the importance of the legislation, urging the group to lobby lawmakers to push it forward. She also pointed to a second piece of paper scattered around the room, this one explaining India’s child protection law.

That legislation is set to be challenged in the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a case called Haaland v. Brackeen.

Crouser said the law is necessary because it prevents Indigenous children from entering the child welfare system when foster placements are available and appropriate. She believes that placing Indigenous children in foster care rather than with loved ones strips them of their cultural identity.

Pat Streng, author of “Native American Resilience: A Story of Racism, Genocide and Survival,” shared insight into his years of research with the group.

Streng said the education system was over the mass genocide of Native Americans in the United States and that uncovering the truth was a tumultuous journey for Streng.

“This book took me a long time to write,” she said. “I cried a lot and was very angry.”

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Pat Streng, the author of “Native American Resilience,” spoke about his experience writing his book at an event honoring Indigenous peoples hosted by Clay Countians for Inclusion at the Garrison School on Saturday, 5 November 2022 at Liberty. Emilie Curiel [email protected]

But anger and concern weren’t the only emotions in the room on Saturday. Speakers acknowledged their pride in the strength and perseverance of Indigenous peoples. Swartley ended the event with a Dakota thank you song.

“It’s a miracle that each of us still has our language — that we still have our songs,” Crouser said. “And it didn’t happen by accident. There were many people who came before me… They gave their lives for this.

This story was originally published November 5, 2022 4:58 p.m.

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Jenna Thompson covers breaking news for The Kansas City Star. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she previously worked for the Lincoln Journal Star and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she studied journalism and English.

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