Nothing like Moo Goo Gai Pan....
Enjoyed a wonderful Chinese lunch with a book club group today. Two hours of laughter and sharing that was a breath of fresh air away from non-stop political theater.
It was an eclectic crowd to say the least, the majority of us north of the double nickles in age. There were two fellow authors (one fantasy, one mystery), at least one retired teacher, and a college student who wasn't the least intimidated by our five-hundred plus years of life experience surrounding her. There was even a former teacher from a boarding school where she had experienced the good side of the government education program at a Navajo facility. She had only recently learned of the dark side of those programs. I guess we can thank Taylor Sheridan for that.
We discussed where we had each lived, the destruction of the massive herds of "tatanka", why the term "America", what happened to the indigenous people who lived along the coast of this continent when the white man arrived, the evil of people in general, the Depression and its impact on our own families, how similar the need for labor today and the resulting border policy. Deep subjects in some cases.
At the end of it all, we had to acknowledge a simple truth. The single most damaging thing that Indian boarding schools did was separate Indian children from their cultures. They could have handled death...they understood death. It was a natural part of life...if it lived, it died. The people could have dealt with that, however painful.
But to be forced to give up their language, their religion, their dance and music, their families and social structures...everything that made them who they were. Although I can't imagine it, it would be like asking me to live in a city and ride a bicycle, to wear corsets and long skirts and sit and stitch a pattern for hours on end. It would be the same as telling an Irishman he could never go to a pub or speak of a Leprechaun again, forbidding an African to speak of a lion or zebra or to drum out a rhythm that might echo across a grassy plain. The same as forbidding an Italian to eat pasta or a New Yorker to eat pizza or a Japanese to eat sushi.
My generation trusted the public school system too implicitly. Like in Germany before the war to end all wars (or so we hoped), one culture is using the schools to alter another culture once again. It's the quickest way to change society...one generation, two at most and our entire culture, our country, could be changed forever. Ask an Indian..it almost happened to them.