Cedric Sunray: Boarding schools and recognition
"Many members of the MOWA Choctaw, Nanticoke, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Pamunkey, Rappahannock, Mattaponi, and Upper Mattaponi attended these schools prior and after the attendance of these brave 13 and 14-year-old students. They became integral parts of the legacies of these institutions. A legacy which has all but been forgotten in the new area of federalization that has swept through Indian Country; an era which has proclaimed that only members or citizens of “federally recognized” tribes are to be considered Indian any longer.

This irony that places these former students and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren at the mercy of federal bureaucrats and those whom, many of which, have never lived the Indian boarding school experience themselves. This was the same federal bureaucracy, which sent them to these schools and issued them blood degrees from the beginning. Today, these Indian people, who grew up in schools such as Haskell, witness the prohibition of attendance of their own tribal members at their alma mater. While Bacone has insured admittance for these tribal communities continuously, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has simply turned its back on people who attended Haskell when the school required a minimum blood quantum of 1/4 to attend. Now these communities watch as people from tribal nations in Eastern Oklahoma and elsewhere send kids to this Bureau of Indian Affairs subsidized school with blood quantums dipping in to the 1/1,000+ ranges.

Due to numerous intermarriages between members of these eight disenfranchised tribes and others from federal tribes there are still some descendants of these alumni attending Haskell, but this is only due to their enrollment with a “federally recognized” parent, grandparent or great-grandparent.

The disrespectful nature of this action would seem unfathomable to any rational person reading this, but unfortunately, it is reality. Not a reality based on blood or familial connection, culture, generational boarding school attendance, residence on historic reservations and logic, but rather one based on politics, historical revisionism and ignorance.

If many members of the Haskell Alumni Association, Haskell student body, Haskell Board of Regents, Haskell Faculty, Haskell Employees and Haskell Administration had their way, the descendants of these alumni would have a continued seat at the table. Unfortunately, Haskell Indian Nations University, due to the strangle hold placed on it by the Bureau of Indian Affairs is the only college in the country where such educational leaders and integral parts of a university education, their decisions and their opinions have little to no say in the food to be served, much less the seating arrangement.

To view the stories, photographs, boarding school archives, BIA correspondence and a documentary of these courageous tribal families please go to www.helphaskell.com."

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Cedric Sunray: Boarding schools and federal recognition (The Native American Times 4/6)