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Friday, August 27, 2021

 I realized today that my homeless struggle was as much about lack of a newsroom as well as an address.

That's because I'm on to a story.

I wrote earlier on in this blog I felt like General Patton, who bemoaned losing his Army during the greatest battle in history.

I am no George Patton but this battle against COVID is our greatest public health battle since the Spanish flu in 1918 which killed in the range of 25-50 million. The pandemic was driven by a lack of good medical information, bad hygiene, close quarter near the end of World War I.

What I missed was that story I always worked on, regardless of newspaper, where I could dig deeply and uncover something hitherto kept quiet. And I allow myself only one use per year of "hitherto" so enjoy, dear reader.

I've written a news story and a column about the story.

After hundreds of unmarked graves were found on the grounds of assimilation schools for the indigenous people in Canada, my mind wandered to the Hayward Indian School in my new -- and last -- city.

The Hayward Indiana School operated from 1901 to 1934 and according to records from the Office of Indian Affairs -- later the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The school generally rated as one of the worst in the vast system of assimilation schools. Children were taught how to grow healthy vegetables and raise dairy cattle as job training but the results were sold to the community. Children were fed moldy bread. Most of the runaways from the school were simply out of hunger.

Worse, if an Indian boy attempted to speak his language or honor his elders with a dance, he would be sent to a jail cell in the basement of the boys dormitory.  After once incident, young girls had to wear a sign that read, "I will not squaw dance."

The term "squaw" has been considered for generations to be racist and misogynistic -- well known at the time of the boarding school.

Thus far, my search has been difficult, even with help from folks on the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation just miles from my house and office.

I suspect that if there is an unmarked cemetery on the grounds of the old school -- a 640-acre plot now inhabited by Hayward Memorial Hospital -- there are no records to document it.

I have found reams of documentation about the failure of Northern States Power Co, when it flooded the old Indian cemetery, to move graves. In my research, I've found graves -- open to the elements now -- remain on an island on the Chippewa Flowage.

Today I received an email from the National Archives office in Chicago. An archival technician digitized a bunch of letters and records for me.

For friends who know me, this is like Christmas.

And if you know me, you'll know how I intend to spend my weekend.

Yep, I'm home -- in a newsroom.

Peace and a mission unto all of you my brothers and sisters.


1 comment:

  1. Did I ever mention that I wrote my thesis on the BIA boarding school at Lac du Flambeau from 1894-1932? We should talk. And I have a whole box of photographed documents from the National Archives that I need to get over to LDF. Thanks for that reminder. ~Suzie

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