America is quite the contradiction. For a country that claims to be freedom it doesn’t allow for me, my parents, my friends, or anyone else in my tribe to be anything but like them. They want us to be American. They wanted the us to cut our hair, change or clothes, and change our culture. They wanted us to look as close to a white person as we could. But I knew, they knew , we all knew that was next to impossible. With our brown skin we could never be like the white man. Who is they you might ask? They is the government or whoever forced us to go to these indian schools. Men with guns would show up on the reservations and take children away from their mothers and fathers. They came for my neighbors yesterday and I knew they were going to come for me next. And so the next day they came.
My mother was cooking lunch when there was a loud, demanding knock on the door. She called for me, Embry to get the door. I knew as I walked towards that door that it was them. The large men with guns that were going to take me to the school. In all honesty I had already packed my bag to go. As I opened that door and saw those men tears wanted to fill my eyes and run down my face but I wanted to show them I wasn’t afraid. But sometimes I wonder if I really was trying to show those men I wasn’t afraid or if I was just trying to show myself that I could be brave. I quickly told them I would go get my mother and then ran into the kitchen to go tell her the horrible news. My mother went to the door while I went to my room to say my last goodbye. Never again would I see this room. All I was going to be seeing for the next 5 to 6 years was gray walls and bland food. There I would lay, alone with my thoughts, waiting for someone to enter my room telling me it was time to go and say goodbye to everything I’ve ever known.
… One week later …
I was there for only a week and they forbade me from even mentioning the reservation. I wasn’t aloud to speak my native tongue or wear my own clothes. If I ever broke those rules in any way I was punished. I was only there for a couple days and I was already in confinement. There I would sit for hours thinking about my hatred for this school. I would sit there thinking about how this school was changing everyone. Everyone was silent and never spoke out but for the few who did were punished. Sometimes we wouldn’t see them for days. They would come back with their face covered in black and blue. That was how the indian schools worked. Schools made to make us native american more white or as the teachers called it “more American”. We were to follow all the rules and if we were to break one them we would would face the consequences. This was more of a prison then a school.We weren’t even allowed to see our families. It was one week I had already missed them. I wanted to go home and see them again but I knew that I was not going to be seeing them in the near future. My life now was going to class, learning about how great America is, eat bland, gray food, do my daily, back breaking chores, and then going to sleep on a rock like bed.
The classes at these schools were incredibly boring. Sometime I would feel as though I was going to fall asleep. The classes didn’t teach much. They only teach what they want us to know. The teachers only taught on the greatness of America not on the horrible things they’ve like slavery or killing the native americans. Some of the kids choose to believe them. The one who believe them are weak and will accept defeat but I wont and I knew others wouldn’t as well. The principal and teachers will continue to punish us but they can’t hide the truth. They can’t hide the fact that some of us won’t stay quiet.
… Two Months Later …
I was sent to confinement everyday. I went for a couple different reasons like speaking out of turn, talking back to teachers, and even speaking in my native tongue. Sometimes I honestly think that keeping quiet is better than being in confinement. I would rather have been in confinement but sometime they didn’t feed you. I didn’t know they only deal with disobedience for so long. Thats why kids came back with bruises all over them. Those kids did not even talk much after that. I fear that will be me some day. If that were to happen to me I didn’t know what I’d do. I would like to tell myself that I would be silent but if I was would they talk that as giving in? I dont want to give into them but is the pain really worth it? Maybe its not, maybe I should stay quiet. I don’t want to get punished for speaking my mind. I honestly just want to leave. I think staying silent might actually be okay. As long as I know that I won’t give in then its okay to stay silent. But what others began to see me as they saw those who gave in? I want to fight back but I didn’t how much more I could take. I just wanted to get through the years left that I had at that school and then go home. I wonder if they still think about me or miss me? I wonder how they’re doing? The school didn’t allow us to see, talk, or even write to our parents. I miss them. I don’t know how much more I can take. Sometimes at night I just lay on my bed thinking about how my life would have been if those schools never existed or if those white men never came here in the first place. I only have five or six years left and all I have to do is get through it. I could probably handle it.
… 10 years later …
Its been two years since since I got out of the school. I’ve been working in Washington as a servant for a wealthy business man and his family. He is very kind and treats all his workers well. My job is to do the laundry and help with cooking. Recently my master has allowed some of his workers to take a small break for a couple of days. I haven’t seen my parents since I was taken away 10 years ago. I missed them but I didn’t have any money to go see them. So here I am on my way to go see my parents. I don’t really know what to expect since its been so long. I wonder what has changed on the reservation like if my parents remember me or if they died. There has been a sickness going around and killing people in the area where my parents live or lived.
It was a long journey but I’m finally home. It feels very weird calling it a home since I haven’t been there for ten years. The wind danced across the sky .I don’t even know if I should call it my home. Even so here I am, back on the reservation in front of my parent’s house. My palms became sweaty as I walked up to the door. Nervous thoughts race through my mind as I knock on the door. It opens and there stands my mother. I start to tear up. It has been twelve years since I’ve seen her. We stand there for a couple minutes.I rub my eyes and as my vision starts to clear I see a look of realization on my mothers face. Tears began to run down her face as she pulls me into a hug. 12 years and and seeing my mother again was the best thing that could ever happen. Even though I would have to leave in a couple of days to go back to work, right now was just perfect.