Some of our Abenaki community attended a documentary film "Unseen Tears" and panel discussion at Sage Colleges, Troy, New York, Dean of Education - Dr. Lori Quigley of Seneca Nation. An excellent documentary film that takes you through the lives of Seneca children - who today are adults who attended Thomas Indian School, in Western NY.
The schools are know as "Residential (Canada) or Boarding (Stateside) Schools", most of them were evil institutionalization of Indian children as young as 5 or 6 years old, sometimes even younger, taking every aspect of what is good and innocent in children and leaving them desperate to escape. They were often times abusive in every way imagineable.
Once old enough to leave, they could not escape far enough from the schools. Most attempted to escape themselves, self medicating with drugs and alcohol, some leaving home and joining the U.S. Military and sadly some committed suicide. Some have left this world because of alcohol or drug related deaths. These are our individual, family, community and nation struggles today. We have hope today, many of our people are following the Red Road to sobriety and recovery.
The day of the event (film) story; Michele Hamel (Benedict) and I went around and picked up some of the Abenaki elders -we all went to historic downtown Troy, NY, to enjoy a great dinner at local restaurant, had a few laughs, and then went on to Sage College, a beautiful campus by the way.
Dr. Quigley spoke first of the development of the how the film came to be. She then acknowledged and honored our Abenaki elders presence in the audience. The acknowledgement was awesome to witness for our elders. The film was very powerful. Councilors are present for anyone who may experience the need to talk to them during the film showing. The film is approximately 1/2 hour. There was a panel discussion of Seneca Nation people, all of whom had powerful messages to share for the audience. A question and answer period followed after the discussants finished.
The documentary film, Unseen Tears has begun a movement of healing for our people, through film. Our Indian people will begin to heal as we move toward open communication, openly discussing issues with each other and communitites, breaking down the barriors of silence. Remember the old saying "stop crying!", where do we think it came from? the past. Lets move on to the future;
Today we can honor our tears.
Denise L. Watso