In 1879 a school opened in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, a boarding school for Native Americans called the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.
With a mission to “Kill the Indian: Save the Man,” the school saw some 10,000 Indigenous children — Lakota, Ojibwe, Seneca, Oneida, Cherokee. Apache, Cheyenne, Alaska Native and children from many other tribes — pass through its halls, where they were forced to leave their families, give up their cultures, languages, religious and spiritual beliefs, even their names. Corporal punishment was the consequence for behaving like an Indian.
Though the school closed in 1918, generations of native people have had to cope with the psychological damage that resulted, right until present day.
The documentary film “Home From School: The Children of Carlisle” presents a slice of this story of woefully misguided integration efforts: the journey of a delegation of Northern Arapaho from the Wind River Indian Reservation to Carlisle. The Center for the Arts and its resident partner Wyoming Humanities will stream excerpts of the film starting at noon Wednesday.
Caldera Productions’ film is directed and produced by Lander resident Geoff O’Gara, whose previous films include the award-winning “Alan K. Simpson: Nothing Else Matters” and whose book “What You See in Clear Water,” about the Wind River Indian Reservation, won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America.
In “Home From School” he and his crew uncover the fraught history of Native American boarding schools, including century-old buried remains of their children.
“We’re showing a segment of the film,” said Emy DiGrappa of Wyoming Humanities, “and then the panel will talk about the importance of making this film, why it was important for them to bring back the remains of these children to the Wind River Reservation.”
O’Gara will moderate the discussion, while associate producer Jordan Dresser will join Crystal C’Bearing, deputy director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office, on the panel.
Rounding out the group will be Yufna Soldier Wolf, one of the featured characters in the documentary.
“It was a healing experience,” said DiGrappa, whose organization gave support to the making of the film. “We want to celebrate the work that we do with Caldera Productions and the work we do with the Native Americans on the Wind River Reservation. We want to make sure that people know and learn about the important work being done.”
Learn about the film or log on to view it at the Center for the Arts’ webpage, JHCenterForTheArts.org. Submit questions for the panel by texting 699-2680. ￼