By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Cherokee High School seniors Silas Reed-Littlejohn and Wade Wolfe laid a wreath at the silo adjacent to EBCI Transit on Friday, Dec. 13 in honor and memory of the attendees of the Cherokee Boarding School. They are part of an 11-student class at CHS entitled “The History of Education in the Eastern Band of Cherokee”, and the class decided to honor the attendees after learning about the Boarding School.
“This silo is the last fully intact structure from the old Boarding School,” said Dr. Allen Bryant who teaches the class. “The Boarding School lasted for about 70 years, and it was a place where both good and bad memories were made. It was certainly not all negative. There were students who learned a lot and had a good time, but then we read some student’s letters and they were taken here by force. They were not allowed to speak the Cherokee language.”
Dr. Bryant continued, “The Tribe has protected this place sort of as a monument to those children who were brought here.”
The Cherokee Middle School Choir sang two songs on Friday including the Cherokee National Anthem.
Ray Kinsland gave the opening prayer at Friday’s event and then spoke about the significance of the Boarding School. He praised the CHS students for their interest in the Boarding School and tribal history. “A lot of people don’t have any interest in history. It’s very vital that you know it and understand it. If we do not keep up with history, we will repeat a lot of the mistakes that were made.”
On the Boarding School, he related, “A lot of things about the school were good. They did a good job of teaching academics and teaching vocation, but all boarding schools were under orders from Washington to wipe out the language, culture and history of all tribes. Our people refused to give up, and today, it thrills me to see the Tribe putting forth a lot of money into our culture and our heritage.”
Catherine Lambert, a Cherokee Boarding School attendee, was present for Friday’s event and related, “It just makes me happy to hear the children sing in our language. You know, we didn’t have that privilege when I was growing up. It’s just a blessing that it is taught in the schools and they can speak it without having to worry about someone spanking them or washing their mouth out with soap.”
“It’s just a blessing to be here with these kids. I’m glad I got to come.
The class, “The History of Education in the Eastern Band of Cherokee”, is through a collaboration with Appalachian State University and all of the students in the class will receive college credit upon completion.