National Native American Heritage Month: Boarding school retrospective speaker

On Tuesday, Nov. 30, an educational online event that focuses on educating everyone and anyone who decides to come about the hardships that the indigenous people of America have faced in the past, focusing on boarding schools, and how it is not just the past anymore because it still affects the U.S. today.

The event is called “Bitter Tears: After Boarding School, In Mourning.” The speaker for the event is Denise Lajimodiere. Lajimodiere is the author of “Stringing Rosaries: The History, The Unforgivable, The Healing of Northern Plains Boarding School Survivors.” She is an enrolled citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, whose reservation is located by Belcourt, North Dakota.

Lajimordiere is a retired associate professor from the School of Education Leadership program at North Dakota State University. She is also one of the founders of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. 

The event is co-hosted by Concordia College. The other local organizations that are involved are the Fargo-Moorhead Indigenous Association, the F-M Interfaith Center and the Associates of Presentation Sisters of Fargo. The groups from campus helping put together the event are Concordia Campus Ministry and the campus Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.

“Why I and DEIC wanted to support this event is because, over the summer, several hundreds of indigenous people’s bodies were uncovered,” said Rita Adejudge, the lead commissioner of DEIC. 

Adejudge is referring to the uncovering of 600 to 1,800 bodies that have been found in Canada and the northern U.S. where boarding schools once were. Most of the bodies were children.

“Since there haven’t really been any class reviews about (uncovering of bodies), we don’t want this to be something that gets covered again,” said Adejudge. 

Adejudge goes on to say how she is not from Minnesota, but rather from Illinois. She has now realized the dark history Minnesota has with its indigenous people. She believes that as a nation and more specifically as an educational system, there would be more injustices if what has happened and what is happening is not shared and to keep it from happening again.

“We aren’t talking about our history. We are actually talking about today,” said Deacon Jon Leiseth who is the primary faculty organizer for this event.

“We are passionate about this event and we think it’ll start several future conversations and we are excited to see what those conversations will look like,” said Adejudge.DEIC is recruiting people who want to learn and can listen for this event. If a student is interested in participating in the conversation, please email deic@cord.edu.

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