Photography lesson

Lesson for the Day: The Forgotten History of Residential Schools


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U.S. high school students can get free digital access to the New York Times until September 1, 2021.

Featured Resources: For this lesson, students can read the article “Lives Lost, Culture Lost: The Forgotten History of Residential Schools“or listen to the Daily episode”State sponsored abuse in Canada”From the beginning until 11:40 am.

(Note to teachers: The podcast contains accounts of physical and sexual abuse. Please listen to the entire episode to make sure it is appropriate for your class.)

The discovery of the remains of hundreds of children this summer at two former Indigenous children’s residential schools in Canada has reignited discussion about a dark chapter in Canadian and American history.

In the late 19th century and throughout the 20th century, Indigenous children in parts of Canada and the United States were removed from their families and forced to attend residential schools where Indigenous languages ​​and Indigenous cultural practices were prohibited. , and these restrictions were often imposed by violence. . The abuse has left a lasting effect on Indigenous communities today.

In this lesson, you will learn about these schools, hear the testimonies of survivors, and consider the importance of history, memory, and justice.

What do you know about residential schools, sometimes called “residential schools”?

To create a K / W / L table to record your thinking before reading the featured article or listening to the podcast episode. Write what you already know about this period of history in the “What I Know “. Write all your questions in the “What I Want to know ”.

Share your facts and questions with a partner. What else can you find together?

Read the article “Lives Lost, Culture Lost: The Forgotten History of Residential Schools“or listen to the Daily episode”State sponsored abuse in Canada»Until 11:40 am. Then respond to the following prompts:

1. Describe in your own words what residential schools looked like.

2. Who ran these schools? What were they created for?

3. What methods have schools used to enforce assimilation of Native American children?

4. The abuse suffered by Aboriginal children in residential schools had many lasting effects. According to the article or podcast, how did the treatment they received affect the life of a long-term survivor? How has this affected a family or a community? How did this affect Native American culture?

5. Indigenous peoples rebelled against residential schools in both large and small ways. Give an example of an act of resistance from the article or podcast.

6. Add to your K / W / L chart from the warm up. What key facts did you learn about residential schools? What questions do you still have?

The story of residential schools and the hundreds of children whose remains were found in schools across Canada raises important questions about history, memory and justice.

To learn more about these “missing children” and what is being done to atone for their deaths, listen to the remainder of the Daily, from 1:40 to 25:40, or read the article “How do thousands of people die?” ‘Aboriginal children have gone missing in Canada. “

Then, with your classmates, discuss:

  • In 2008, the Canadian government issued a formal apology for its role in perpetuating residential schools. The United States and the Roman Catholic Church still have not done so. In your opinion, is this kind of formal apology helpful? Why or why not?

  • What other steps have been taken, or are being taken, to address the abuse suffered by Aboriginal children in these schools? How could these actions help heal indigenous communities? Do you think they are enough? If not, what do you think else should be done?

  • Why do you think the story of the residential schools could have been ignored for so long, especially by the Canadian and American governments and others outside of the native communities? Why would it be important to know this story?

Additional teaching and learning opportunities

  • Examine photographs that document part of the history of residential schools. What do you notice and wonder about these images? How do these photos speak of the “legacy of cultural erasure” that you learned during the lesson?

  • The creators of The Daily suggest this idea: “The routine at public gatherings in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the custom of recognizing indigenous lands, or recognizing the country, only started recently to gain ground in the United States outside of the tribal nations. . If you want to identify the origin of the land on which you live, you can consult local and historic indigenous territories on this map. “

  • Want to know more about this story? Choose one of the questions from your K / W / L chart, or another aspect of the story that interests you, such as the burial and burial ceremonies for missing Indigenous children, the technology behind the search for burial sites or the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Do some research and share what you discover with your classmates.

Learn more about the Daily Lesson here and find all of our daily lessons in this column.


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