MSU screens film to amplify Indigenous voices

The American Indian Affairs organization hosted a screening of the film “Home from School: The Children of Carlisle,” directed by Geoffrey O’Gara. 

The film discusses the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the harm done to the children there and the relocation of the bodies of three Northern Arapaho boys from the school’s cemetery.

AIA Director Megan Heutmaker said “There were a lot of Indigenous voices in this film and I think that was really important too. That’s part of our passion; helping our campus community learn things that they may not have known before. I think the film talked about it as well. A lot of people think of Native people, American Indian people, as historical figures, and that’s a lot to do with media and books and films and we’re often seen in this historical nature. And this is connected to a historical piece of the boarding schools, but also it showed what’s happening in the present for Native communities to reconcile that history, and how to move forward in today’s world and community to remember and honor what’s happened to those children.”

If you were unaware, American Indian Boarding Schools were used to teach American Indian children about European culture and education. These schools were brutal and cruel and forced students to leave their families. Students were severely punished if they used their native language or practiced their own customs, and were given European names (these names were displayed on the tombstones of the children who died at the school). 

Thankfully, these schools were closed and their practices stopped altogether in the early 20th century, but the damage is still quite severe.

Heutmaker said she hopes the film prompts students to think more and ask questions about the history of indigenous people.

“Think critically about other things that have happened for the Indigenous community, historically,” she said. “My main goal is that we think critically and we ask questions of how things got to where we are, and that’s always my biggest hope for students, what they walk away with is to start thinking critically at what they’ve learned, what they’re going to learn, make sure they’re asking questions.”

The AIA has a film showing once every semester, as well as a Spring Round Dance 12-4 p.m. April 13 at the Kato Ballroom, 200 Chestnut St. Mankato. To learn more about American Indian Affairs, you can stop by CSU 269, or check it out on the school’s website.

Write to Ellie Meschke at eleanor.meschke@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: American Indian Affairs screened, “Home from School: The Children of Carlisle,” Monday to address the harm caused by Carlisle Indian Industrial School. (Nate Tilahun/The Reporter)

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