Time for an apology to the world’s Indigenous peoples: Residential schools, exploitation of natural resources and ill treatment in the name of “progress”

Excerpt from lithub.com
Marina Endicott on the Forced Schooling of Indigenous Canadian | Read the full article >>

In Canada we have been struggling for many years to uncover and acknowledge the history of residential schools. In the original treaties between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the Crown (the government, rested in the person of Queen Victoria), the contractual language hovers warmly between trust and love; the Chiefs who signed are called to believe in her maternal care for them, and in the knowledge and love of the officers representing her. Those treaties are difficult reading, because the loving language is at odds with the Canadian state’s disregard for its undertakings, both then and now.

One of many broken agreements was that children were to be educated “whenever the Indians of the reserve shall desire it” in schools on the reserves. But rather than instruction being optional for those bands who desired it, as agreed, the state abducted Indigenous children and forcibly confined them in residential schools far from their reserves.

This was done, according to Sir John A. Macdonald (speaking to Parliament in 1833), to break their link to their culture and identity so that the children might “acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

The residential school system in Canada lasted more than a hundred years, and its effects have devastated generations.

In Canada we have been struggling for many years to uncover and acknowledge the history of residential schools. In the original treaties between Canada’s Indigenous peoples and the Crown (the government, rested in the person of Queen Victoria), the contractual language hovers warmly between trust and love; the Chiefs who signed are called to believe in her maternal care for them, and in the knowledge and love of the officers representing her. Those treaties are difficult reading, because the loving language is at odds with the Canadian state’s disregard for its undertakings, both then and now.

One of many broken agreements was that children were to be educated “whenever the Indians of the reserve shall desire it” in schools on the reserves. But rather than instruction being optional for those bands who desired it, as agreed, the state abducted Indigenous children and forcibly confined them in residential schools far from their reserves.

This was done, according to Sir John A. Macdonald (speaking to Parliament in 1833), to break their link to their culture and identity so that the children might “acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

The residential school system in Canada lasted more than a hundred years, and its effects have devastated generations.

Source: The Function of Shame in Literature: Marina Endicott on the Forced Schooling of Indigenous Canadians, LITERARY HUB, 9 June 2020
URL: https://lithub.com/the-function-of-shame-in-literature/
Date visited: 9 June 2020

Listen to related discussions on CBC Unreserved: Canada’s radio space for indigenous community, culture, and conversation | CBC related posts >>

By Tarsh Thekaekara, InfoChange News & Features, December 2008

Many countries have ill treated and persecuted their indigenous people, often in worse ways than India. But while some leaders like Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have gone on record to apologise for past actions, India doesn’t even want to acknowledge what it has done to its tribal populations

Once upon a time there lived a happy people who coexisted peacefully with the plants, trees and animals for centuries. They depended on the forests to live, so they did their best to respect it and all the creatures that lived in it. These simple people did not know of concepts like conservation, but neither did they know of destruction. They had harmony in their lives, and without destruction there was no need for conservation. They killed animals to eat, but animals also killed them from time to time. It was a balanced world.

Unfortunately these were not the only people in the world. Far away there were some enlightened kings who knew of their presence, but luckily respected their way of life and the role they played in the forest. So they did not bother them. But, further away, there lived some other pioneering and ambitious white people who did not know or respect these people and the forests they lived in. They believed that forests were valuable natural resources that could be exploited — but only after they had been destroyed. So these white men, along with other brown men, began to systematically exploit these natural resources.

Then one day, in 1886, in another faraway place, some white people decided to have an Imperial Forest Service to best manage and exploit this valuable natural resource. And one German gentleman became the expert on Indian forests. But still the quiet forest people continued to live peacefully without the German gentleman or anyone else knowing about them. […]

The pioneers were easily able to trick and enslave many of these savages. But the remaining savages were not happy with the outside contact or the concept of exploiting natural resources. They retreated further into the forests where they continued to live, though a little less peacefully.

The pioneers continued to exploit the natural resources, and the indigenous people kept retreating deeper into the forest. Ships were built and wars were won. Beautiful tea estates were planted, agriculture became scientific, and great progress was made. The pioneers were honoured and statues put up.

The white men became a shade browner, and the Imperial Forest Service became the Indian Forest Service. Brown sahibs continued to be pioneers and bring “wasted” forestland under cultivation. They trapped more of the indigenous people and forced them to work on the lands to make them productive. A Green Revolution converted red, brown, yellow, orange, green and a multitude of other natural colours into a standard shade of urea-induced green. And the indigenous people retreated further. […]

The pioneers were dead and gone (there was no point talking ill of them) and so they targeted the indigenous people. They were the problem and needed to be dealt with.

From then on, the Forest Department that was set up to exploit the forests made it a point to hound these people and try to move them out of the forests. They were no longer welcome in their traditional home — the forests they had lived in for centuries. They were not even allowed to cut grass to put a roof over their heads, or dig up tubers for their daily meal.

So the community began to weaken. They could not all live collectively, as every individual had to struggle to survive. Their values slowly got eroded with more and more contact with the outsiders. Some of them were even convinced of the concept of natural resources and how the forests could be exploited. They could not exploit it themselves though, so they sometimes helped others with the exploitation in order to survive.

Now, after a few decades of this department and the government doing their very best to sever all links the adivasis had with the forests, they decide that they have made another mistake. The adivasis were not the problem; their rights in the forests had to be recognised. They have been living in harmony with nature for centuries and have not caused any destruction at all. And so we now have a Forest Rights Act.

The government though fails to identify the cause of the problem. […]

This is not something that is limited to our country. Most countries have ill treated and persecuted their indigenous people, often in much worse ways than us. But some are starting to apologise. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave an excellent speech saying sorry to the aboriginal people for the ‘stolen generations’ — generations of children who were taken from their homes, forcibly separated from their parents in an attempt by the government to ensure that “by the fifth and invariably by the sixth generation, all native characteristics of the Australian aborigine are eradicated”.

“Today we honour the indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations — this blemished chapter in our nation’s history. We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians. […]

“To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.”

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper followed suit. Though not quite as moving and genuine as Rudd, he acknowledges that a grave injustice has occurred. He apologises for forcibly moving a huge number of indigenous children away from their homes and into residential schools in an attempt to ‘civilise’ them, and “kill the Indian in the child”. […]

And so what do we do about it?

Various retired gentlemen across the country, all hailing from very senior posts in the same organisation that has “scientifically managed” our forests for the last century, go to courts in the public interest, asking that the Forest Rights Act be withdrawn. They go so far as to suggest it is unconstitutional. Their objections are similar: The Act will facilitate huge land grabs all across the country, and will destroy our forests. All this from the comfort of their urban, airconditioned cars and homes of course.

What a great democratic country we live in.

Links to Australia and Canada’s apologies:

(Tarsh Thekaekara is a young conservationist based in Gudalur, Nilgiris)

Source: Apologising to the aboriginals | Features | Environment
Address : http://www.infochangeindia.org/environment/features/apologising-to-the-aboriginals.html
Date Visited: Sun Oct 14 2012 11:26:48 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Residential, Ashram and Factory schools

Backgrounder & image © Economic Times >>
  • Ekalavya* Residential School Scheme (EMR): a network of boarding schools where tribal children are to be educated in accordance with rules and syllabi provided by the government; such schools are being designated as “Eklavya Model Residential School (EMR)” with the objective of empowering students “to be change agent, beginning in their school, in their homes, in their village and finally in a large context.”
    https://tribal.gov.in/DivisionsFiles/sg/EMRSguidlines.pdf
  • Residential School and Ashram School
    In some regions there are similar “Residential Schools” and “Ashram Schools” for tribal children, as in Tripura where they are managed by a society called “Tripura Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TTWREIS)”
    https://twd.tripura.gov.in/tripura-tribal-welfare-residential-educational-institutions-society
  • Factory schools “exist to turn tribal and indigenous children – who have their own language and culture – into compliant workers-of-the-future. The world’s largest Factory School stated that it turns ‘Tax consumers into tax payers, liabilities into assets’.”– survivalinternational.org/factoryschools | Research this subject with the help of a Safe custom search engine >>

* Ekalavya (Eklavya, Eklabya): the name of a legendary archer prodigy “who, being a Nishada [Sanskrit Niṣāda, “tribal, hunter, mountaineer, degraded person, outcast”], had to give his thumb as a fee to the brahmin guru thus terminating his skill as an archer.” – Romila Thapar (“The epic of the Bharatas”) | Read the full paper here | Backup download link (pdf) >>

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This entry was posted in Accountability, Adivasi / Adibasi, Adverse inclusion, Childhood and children, Colonial policies, Commentary, Customs, Democracy, Ecology and environment, Education and literacy, Ekalavya (Eklavya, Eklabya), EMR & Factory schools, Forest Rights Act (FRA), Government of India, History, Misconceptions, Organizations, Photos and slideshows, Press snippets, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tribal culture worldwide. Bookmark the permalink.