Excerpts from "The Circle Game" (residential schools)


as posted to sovernet-l by James Craven on July 10, 1998

The following is from "The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience in Canada" by Roland Chrisjohn, Sherri Young and Michael Maraun, Theytus Books Ltd, Penticton BC, 1997. This book contains evidence and argument on Canadian Residential Schools that was NOT included in the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The full text is accessible from:


Executive Summary

What if the Holocaust had never stopped?

What if no liberating armies invaded the territory stormed over by the draconian State? No compassionate throng broke down the doors to dungeons to free those imprisoned within? No collective outcry of humanity arose as stories of the State's abuses were recounted? And no Court of World Opinion seized the State's leaders and held them in judgment as their misdeeds were chronicled? What if none of this happened?

What if, instead, with the passage of time the World came to accept the State's actions as the rightful and lawful policies of a sovereign nation having to deal with creatures that were less than fully human? And, what if, curbing some of the more glaring malignancies of its genocidal excesses, the State increasingly became prominent as both a resource for industrial powers and as an industrial power in its own right? What if the State could depend upon the discretion of other nations, engaged in their own local outrages, to wink at its past, so that the lie told to and accepted by other nations was one the State could tell itself and its 'real' citizens without fear of contradiction? What if the men who conceived, fashioned and implemented and operated the machinery of destruction grew old and venerable and acclaimed, hailed as 'Fathers' of their country and men of insight and renown?

What if the Holocaust had never stopped, so that, for the State's victims, there was no vindication, no validation, no justice, but instead the dawning realization that this was how things were going to be? What if those who resisted were crushed, so that others, tired of resisting, simply prayed that the 'next' adjustment to what remained of their ways of life would be the one that, somehow, they would be able to learn to live with? What if some learned to hate who they were, or to deny it out of fear, while others embraced the State's image of them, emulating as far as possible the State's principles and accepting its judgment about their own families, friends, and neighbors? And what if others could find no option other than to accept the slow, lingering death the State had mapped out for them, or even to speed themselves along their State-desired end?

What if?

Then, you would have Canada's treatment of the North American Aboriginal population in general, and the Indian Residential School Experience in particular.

And here and now we are going to prove it to you.

James Craven's Editorial Comments

The report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which did not include the material on Residential Schools contained in The Circle Game, contained arguments and conclusions such as the following:
"Now, in any large organization, isolated incidences of abuse may occur, and such abuses 'may' have occured in 'some' Indian Residential Schools. In any event, individuals who attended Residential Schools now appear to be suffering low self-esteem, alcoholism, somatic disorders, violent tendencies, and other symptoms of psychological distress (called 'Residential School Syndrome'). While these symptoms seem endemic to Aboriginal Peoples in general (and not limited to those who attended Residential School), this is likely to have come about because successive generations of attendees passed along, as it were, their personal psychological problems to their home communities, perpetuated the symptomology, if not the syndrome." (quoted in Ibid. pp. 1-2)
1) Supposedly there were a 'few', isolated, anecdotal, deviant practices against 'some" Indian children in a 'few" institutions, therefore how is it that a commonly known, pervasive and accepted "syndrome"--Residential School Syndrome"-- developed out of a 'few' incidences to 'some' or a 'few' Indian children?

2) Supposedly a 'few', 'isolated' and 'anecdotal' incidences in a 'few' institutions produced widespread, ongoing and pervasive chains and legacies of parental neglect, dysfunction, abuse, violence etc that are pervasive and 'endemic' in Indian Country?

Incredible arrogance, duplicity, cover-up, willful blindness, ignorance and inhumanity. This is the proverbial "Canary in the Mine."

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