After the bodies of more than 200 school children were discovered in an unmarked mass grave in Canada, Indigenous tribes in Michigan are calling for searches to be conducted in Michigan.

Get our free mobile app

Last month, the remains of 215 children were recently discovered buried on the grounds of what was once the largest boarding school for Indigenous children in Canada. As recently as the 1970s, children were taken from their families and forced to attend state-funded Christian schools where they were not allowed to speak their native language. There are reports that many were beaten and verbally abused.

In addition to the facility in Canada, there were three such school sites in Michigan.

  • Holy Childhood in Harbor Springs, closed in 1983
  • Indian Industrial Boarding School in Mt. Pleasant, closed in 1934
  • Holy Name of Jesus Indian Mission in the Upper Peninsula, closed in 1954

James Bud Day is the director of language and culture for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians — more commonly known as the Gun Lake Tribe. He tells WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids that schools would sweep tribes and their children would be taken away.

“They (the United States government) hoped to break us, hoped to break our spirit, to take away our fight,” Day said. “And sometimes they succeeded to where when they came for that last little one, it wasn’t even a fight anymore: ‘Here, you took everything else. Might as well take this one, too.'”

Some of the children never returned home.

No mass graves have been found at any Michigan sites, but there have been no searches.

Day says the least the government can do is do a search for those children who never came home.

“They don’t have a voice anymore, so we as a native people need to be that voice and not only do we need to be that voice, but we need to have that voice be heard,” Day said.

 

MORE: A Look Inside the Abandoned Governor's Mansion in Bad Axe

KEEP READING: What were the most popular baby names from the past 100 years?