Catholic Church issues apology to Menominees for sins committed during Boarding School Era
By Ellen Hickok-Wall, Leader correspondent
KESHENA — Menominee Indian tribal members gathered Monday evening for a long-awaited confession of wrong-doing by the very church that continues to serve tribal members today.
Priests from St. Anthony Church in Neopit and St. Michael Church in Keshena apologized for pain and suffering tribal members endured during the Boarding School Era from 1856 to 1954.
“We stand here formally to present an apology to the Menominee for our past sin, which caused suffering and hurt through so many generations,” the Rev. Dave Kiefer of St. Anthony Church said to an auditorium filled with tribal members during the ceremony titled “Begin the Healing Journey.”
Kiefer and the Rev. Bob Rank of St. Michael Church took turns reciting a dozen pleas to their creator to heal the Menominee people from events that have caused injury to the tribe.
“The boarding schools took the young from home and family to new structures, language, and growth patterns,” Rank said. “Heal the wounds, Creator, from the traumas, different living patterns, any abuse, the lack of family intimacy, and the other hurts faced in those experiences. Heal the wounds caused by the zealous nature of the missionaries, priests and sisters in their efforts to pass on the Catholic faith.”
During the nearly century-long Boarding School Era, the U.S. government, aided by the Catholic Church, ran schools across the country with an agenda designed to strip Native American children of their culture and “civilize” them.