Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed
A First Nation in British Columbia says it’s found what are believed to be children’s remains at a suspected grave site of a former residential school.
As Dan Karpenchuk reports, the discovery comes after an 18-month effort to find potential graves.
The Vancouver Island First Nation says it’s found 17 suspected unmarked graves at the site of the former Alberni Indian Residential School.
The work included interviews with survivors, historical records, and other documents.
Although seventeen suspected graves were found records show that 67 students died at the school.
Children from as many as 70 First Nations attended the Alberni Residential School during its operation from 1900 to 1973.
Ground penetrating radar was also used to look for possible graves at the site.
Sheri Meading is the lead researcher. She says survivors told them where to look and they knew multiple locations.
“Many spoke about forced abortions. Multiple different burial locations without grave markers. Finding skulls and human skeletal remains in and around the residence grounds of students.”
Meading says many of the children died from medical conditions.
Band officials say any investigations would be conducted independently with the consent of the Tseshaht First Nation.
The elected chief councilor also wants the Canadian government to review the Royal Canadian Mounted Police role at the school.
From 1942 to 1952, children at the Alberni school were subjected to nutrition experiments without the consent of their parents.
The Central American country of Guatemala recently commemorated its national day to remember victims of the country’s armed conflict – a bloody civil war that lasted 36 years and killed more than 200,000 Guatemalans – the majority of them Indigenous Maya.
On that day, victims’ groups filed legal action to stop the daughter of a former dictator from running for president.
Maria Martin reports.
Standing in front of Guatemala’s Supreme Court, hundreds of Indigenous protesters carried crosses bearing the names of dead family members, as they filed a suit to keep conservative, pro-military candidate Zury Ríos off the presidential ballot.
Attorney for the victims’ groups Juan Marcos says Guatemala’s constitution prohibits the candidacies of family members of those promoting military coups.
In 1982, Zury Ríos’ father, General Efraín Ríos Montt, gained power in a military overthrow and hundreds of massacres took place during his rule.
In 1993, he was convinced of genocide of the Ixil Maya, though the ruling was overturned on a technicality.
Attorney Marcos also says Zury Ríos and her party continue efforts against victims, such as proposing an amnesty law for war criminals.
Meanwhile, Ríos maintains she has every right to run and she’s a leading candidate for the June 25 election.
A part of Alaska history has passed, along with Elizabeth Kudrin, who was remembered at a memorial service in Anchorage on Saturday, February 25, as a “great survivor.”
As Rhonda McBride from our flagship station KNBA reports, few Alaskans know her story, and even fewer Americans.
Kudrin was one of two remaining survivors from Attu, a remote Aleutian Island captured by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
She was just a baby when she and the rest of her village were taken to Japan as prisoners of war.
About half of them died during captivity.
Kudrin’s husband George says her death marks the end of an era.
“She was probably, the matriarch of matriarchs, the last mom from Attu.”
Kudrin says his wife never talked about the war. It was just too difficult.
In his book, Attu Boy, Elizabeth’s late brother Nick Golodoff described the hunger and starvation in Japan – how, by the end of the war, their daily ration was only a quarter of a bowl of watered-down rice.
Rachel Mason, a National Park Service historian, says the people of Attu were taken to Japan in September, after summer fishing.
She says the timing turned out to be key to their survival.
“The Japanese told the Attuans to pack as much as they could of their subsistence foods, and so they brought dried fish. And that I think saved them because at least until their fish ran out, they ate fairly well in Japan.”
The Attuans, who did survive, were never allowed to return home to Attu, which remains uninhabited today.
The federal government resettled Elizabeth Kudrin’s family in the neighboring island of Atka.
Her husband George says Atkans were puzzled to hear Elizabeth sing in a mysterious language.
“She used to sing Japanese. She used to go under the table and sing Japanese. She doesn’t remember that though.”
Although his wife kept silent about the trauma her family experienced in the war, including the loss of her father who died in Japan, George Kudrin says he knew she was haunted by the experience, yet marveled at how she always found time to be kind and compassionate.
He sums up his wife’s legacy in two words in Unangam Tunuu, Elizabeth’s first language.
“(Speaking in Unangam Tunuu) Ayagam Kayutuu. Strong woman. And she just loved you.”
Elizabeth Kudrin died just a few days after her 82nd birthday on Sunday, February 19.
She was born in 1941, the same year Japanese fighter planes bombed Pearl Harbor.
Her brother Gregory Golodoff is now the last remaining survivor of Attu.
Get National Native News delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up for our newsletter today.