Indianz.Com > Native Sun News: Boarding school film offers a healing journey

The award-winning documentary feature film “The Thick Dark Fog” is not intended to be entertaining.

“We hope this honest look at a rather dark episode of American history will help Native and non-Native people alike understand each other better and heal,” director Randy Vasquez said in his successful effort to raise $15,000 on the Internet for the film’s completion. The winner of the Best Documentary award at the 2011 American Indian Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the 2012 Black Hills Film Festival, the movie, which aired on PBS in June, is showing at the Elks Theatre in Rapid City at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 24.

Its protagonists, Wounded Knee residents Walter Littlemoon and his wife, Jane Ridgway, will lead a discussion about the American Indian boarding school experience following the screening.

A “thick dark fog” is how Littlemoon described feelings he had for many years before Ridgway helped him cut through a morass of mixed-up emotions he now attributes to his boarding school days on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

“I was 56 years old when we started this and now I’m almost 70 years old, and everything was blocked by fear because of boarding school,” Littlemoon told Native Sun News.

The root of the trouble, he said, turned out to be the military philosophy that guided the administration of the federally-run Oglala Community High School in Pine Ridge, which he was forced to attend from ages five to 11. It was: “Kill the Indian; save the man.”

His thoughts and feelings began to come unblocked when Harvard Medical School professor of clinical psychology Judith Herman, author of “Trauma and Recovery,” gave Littlemoon a name for the condition he suffered: complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD).

The concept expands the diagnostic category of post-traumatic stress disorder from what the federal Veterans Administration describes as the symptoms of a short-lived trauma to include “the syndrome that follows upon prolonged, repeated trauma.”

As Littlemoon understands it, “What happened in boarding school has made your everyday life so complicated you don’t even know where to start.

“A lot goes back to before reservations were established, to massacres, to rounding up people, to marching them to Oklahoma and escaping,” he adds. “How many massacres had to take place? It’s very hard.”

Back in 1981 when Ridgway sought Herman’s advice for Littlemoon, there was “not much talk about it” when it came to Indian boarding schools, Ridgway noted.

ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: Indianz.Com > Native Sun News: Boarding school film offers a healing journey.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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