Brenda Davis, Program Coordinator for Native American Learning at the Anoka Hennepin school district, along with her husband, Michael Davis, came to Social Studies Teacher Todd Manninen’s class to inform students about the horrors of Indian Boarding schools and what she personally experienced. She spent nine years at a boarding school.
Davis spoke very passionately about how cruelly she was treated along with how badly any other Native Americans were treated during the existence of these schools and 20 minutes into the class she broke down crying speaking about her experiences. During her time at the school she was beaten, struck with rulers, and when she spoke her own native tongue, she had soap bars forced into her mouth and washed out. She was repeatedly called a savage. Even though she didn’t know how speak any other language but her own races, she was still expected to know how to speak English perfectly.
She brought up her opinion that they were basically performing a “genocide” when they were running these schools. Often times when she was at the schools she heard the “white man” say that “you must kill the indian to save the man.”
“Until you’ve lived it, don’t judge us,” said Davis.
Throughtout the class period Davis spoke about many other Indian traditions as well as Native American values. One thing that she spoke about was how an Indian’s long hair symbolizes spirit and the longer the hair the stronger the spirit.
Kids really seemed to be intrigued by the topic presented by Davis and attempted to throw in their own opinions and bring up very good questions to ask the speaker. She had some very good points which made the conversation very heated and yet very informative.
Manninen is planning on continuing the streak of speakers for the third week in a row with a different cultural topic.