Journey to Wellness in Indian Country - "What could a child do to God to deserve this?"

Oct 23, 2017

Grace searching for her parents’ graves and her childhood home in Pitka’s Point
Credit ©Alicia Smith. Used with permission

Grace Smith of Pitka's Point, Alaska, was orphaned around the age of seven when both her parents died of tuberculosis.  She grew up, moved to Minnesota in 1959, married, raised a family.

A few years ago, one of Grace's daughters, Alicia, was enrolled in the Master of Tribal Administration and Governance program here at UMD and Grace asked her daughter if she could sit in on a class or two.

One evening, in the midst of a discussion of native people and the federal government, Grace put her hand up and told the class that she was a survivor of the boarding school system.

It was something she had never talked about before, even to her children.

Now, after what she calls "two years of healing," Grace Smith is sharing her story.

Survivors of boarding schools can find help and resources through The National Native American Boarding School Boarding School Healing Coalition.

More information about Indian boarding schools is also available here.