ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – Paul Ongtooguk grew up witnessing numerous cases the place his associates had been shipped off to boarding colleges.
“You’d simply be loaded onto a airplane and brought to a faculty,” Ongtooguk stated. “A village would get emptied out in the course of the fall of any college students who had been highschool age eligible.”
In accordance with a report by the College of Alaska, by 1969, at the very least 2,076 Alaska Native youngsters had been enrolled in a secondary boarding faculty. Ongtooguk grew to become emancipated and was capable of keep away from going to a boarding faculty, but, the eerie recollections are nonetheless there.
“I used to be shocked by the colleges in how little they regarded the historical past and tradition of the overwhelming majority of scholars who had been attending the colleges,” Ongtooguk stated.
He recollects that yearly, the quite a few college students dedicated suicide. The trauma the boarding colleges triggered have created a long-lasting influence.
On Dec. 15 2020, the Division of Justice introduced that they had cheap trigger to imagine Alaska was violating Title II of the Individuals With Incapacity Act “by failing to offer providers to youngsters with behavioral well being disabilities in essentially the most built-in setting applicable to their wants.”
The investigation additionally drew parallels between the boarding colleges and the elimination of youth from their hometown for psychological well being remedy.
“The expertise of PRTF placement will be devastating for youngsters—and uniquely so for Alaska native youngsters, compounding the trauma of previous generations when Alaska Native youth had been routinely taken from their communities and despatched to boarding colleges, together with some run by the State or the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs,” the report stated.
Within the fiscal yr 2020, the report states that at the very least one-third of the youth receiving state-funded psychological well being remedy had been Alaska Natives. Between July 2018 and February 2021, the report stated that at the very least 150 youths had been transferred from North Star Behavioral Well being System to an out-of-state remedy middle.
Alaska’s Information Supply reached out to North Star to request remark quite a few occasions.
“We don’t want to take part,” a spokesperson stated.
The DOJ writes in its report that psychiatric residential remedy facility settings “are disconnected from their tradition, shedding alternatives to study from elders, study Native languages, learn to stay off the land, and take part in cultural traditions that affirm their id.”
Ongootooguk stated that the practices of psychological well being remedy amenities and boarding colleges are equally damaging to Alaska Native youth.
“From a cultural standpoint, the elimination of children for psychological well being care is part of the identical system of boarding colleges and foster care and the general alienation of children, of younger individuals, in order that they aren’t capable of be productive members of the neighborhood and tradition they’re part of,” Ongootooguk stated.
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