The Daily Prayer
THURSDAY, February 13, 2020
On February 13, 2008, the prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, issued a national apology to aboriginal families torn apart by Australian government agencies and church missions during the period between 1869 and 1969. Children were taken from their families and forced into institutions where they were often unable to speak their native language and were given new names and birthdates. It is estimated that between 1910 and 1971, fifty-five thousand children were taken from their families.
Zitkála-Šá, an American Indian woman who spent three years in an off-reservation boarding school, wrote this account of her experience: “Judéwin knew a few words of English, and she had overheard the paleface woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners and shingled hair by cowards! I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. In my anguish, I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now, I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.”
Lord, forgive us for not learning the cultures of your children around the world and in our communities. You speak to us in many languages and customs. Train our ears and our hearts to hear you. Amen.