Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Leave the Light On
They say that if your child is missing you should leave you porch light on, the child will see the light and know the way home. I was reminded of this early this week. Photographed is an entrance to the Mt. Pleasant Industrial Indian Boarding School. I was on the Boarding School grounds this week to cover a ceremony to celebrate the 77th anniversary of the schools closing. The ceremony included a ceremonial pipe ceremony, a sacred fire and a role call. The role call was a reading of the names of 144 Native American children who perished at the school.
A little history lesson: It is no secret that "whites" stole land from the Native Americans. What many people don't realize is that "whites" wanted to rid the US of these "savage people". They opened schools like these are over North America, they would visit reservations and take all the Native America youth they could find and ship them off to these schools. These schools were intended to "Americanize" the Native Americans. teach them trades and skills. It wasn't uncommon to see a sign hanging on the wall that said Kill the Indian, Save the Man. The students of these schools were punished if they practiced Native America rituals or spoke their native language. It wasn't a school, it was a prison.
I had a few ideas when I pulled the LIGHT FIXTURE topic, but when I noticed that entrance had a fixture, with no bulb, I knew what I was going to photograph. (I had to trespass to get this shot). I think it is fitting that the light can't be on, so the spirits of the Native American youth who perished know that if they are lost, this is not their home.