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Indigenous remembrance ceremony held at Black Hawk State Park

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 1:54 AM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Native American Coalition of the Quad Cities joined other councils across the United States and Canada in holding a ceremony to remember the thousands of indigenous children forced to attend government-funded residential schools across the continent.

Larry Lockwood is the coalition’s cultural educator. His father attended one of these schools.

“Each and every Native American family has this part of their history,” Lockwood said. “A member of their family was taken away and probably never even heard from again.”

Across North America, indigenous communities gathered to form drum and prayer circles at 4:15 p.m. central time on Thursday.

The ceremonies fell on Orange Shirt Day, which according to the coalition’s president, Regina Tsosie, commemorates the story of one of these students.

“Her mother gave her a very nice shiny orange blouse to war to school,” Tsosie said. “[She] went to school and her teacher immediately took it away from her.”

According to the coalition, more than six thousand five hundred bodies from mass grave sites associated with these schools were recovered so far.

Thursday’s event was meant to help the grieving and healing process, and drumming helps bring the community together in this process.

“When we’re singing these songs and sharing them with the community we’re really giving back to the people and strengthening those prayers,” Lockwood said.

The event was also to bring awareness to the issues facing the Native American community.

“It’s a national day of coming together to honor those children ... to acknowledge the pain those children and their families faced during that time,” Tsosie said. “Hopefully this will shed more light in being truthful with the history of this country.”

Tsosie has hope, as having Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, be the first Native American to serve in the cabinet is a step in the right direction in her eyes. In the meantime, the coalition hopes to continue education within the Quad Cities.

For more information on how to get involved with NACQC visit their Facebook page.

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