Residential Schools: "Kill the Indian — Save the Man"
Post-Civil War until the late 20th Century.
Wringing his hands involuntarily, Ariel abruptly turned his head to hide from his father the look of desolation that must have crossed his face. Even now, he remembered vividly the days that ended his childhood.
First, both his aunties fiercely scrubbed him down in the galvanized metal kitchen tub and dressed him in assorted clothes belonging to their own children. When they yanked a comb through the impossible tangles in his long hair, he wondered if he’d been bad. Then a man dressed in a suit arrived in a big black car to take him away. He tried not to cry because his aunties, uncles, and eight cousins were watching from the road.
A full week of humiliation passed in the terrifying new place. They shaved his head and fed him strange food that made him sick. Everything in the big rooms scared him — the line of steaming silver pots in the kitchen, the rows of identical beds in the little boys’ dormitory, and most of all, the white porcelain toilets in the bathroom.
The worst thing was, no one seemed to understand what he was saying. But he still hoped that this confusing nightmare would end when his aunties took him home. He climbed out a window every night after lights-out to wait for them at the front driveway, which always made fat Matron so angry that she hit his hands with a ruler, and sometimes she had a big boy hit his back with a leather belt.
His aunties didn’t come.
From “Mohe” Chapter 18: Ariel (Sequoyah)