Orange Shirt Day, or National Day of Remembrance for US Boarding Schools and National Day of Truth & Reconciliation began in Canada as a day to bring attention to the damage the residential school system did to Indigenous children, lifeways, and cultures.
Beginning in the late 1800s, the US government and various church groups began establishing boarding (or residential) schools for American Indian and Alaska Native children. The children were forcibly removed from their families and cultures. These schools were intended to “civilize” Native children and assimilate them into white culture. This amounted to cultural genocide. The first boarding school in Alaska was established in 1878 by Presbyterian missionaries, and in the decades that followed boarding schools opened across Alaska. 33 residential schools operated in Alaska. Alaska Native children were also taken from their homeland to schools across the US.
The first step to healing and reconciliation is truth. Join us throughout the week leading up to September 30 as partners across Alaska work to bring attention and awareness to our states’ past, offer opportunities for healing, and find ways to move forward together.