Boarding school survivors, their descendants eligible for care packages

11/04/2020 02:00 PM
MINNEAPOLIS – The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is sending 1,000 care packages to Native elders who are boarding school survivors or their direct descendants.

The We Love You! Elder Care Packages, which are arranged by volunteers from the Tulalip community in Washington state, are filled with items created or produced by Indigenous artists, healers, entrepreneurs, companies and friends from across Turtle Island, NABS officials said.

Every survivor of an Indian boarding school or a direct descendant over 60 years old is eligible to receive a care package. Family members are also encouraged to request a care package for a relative if they satisfy the requirements. The care packages are on a first-come, first-served basis and can be requested through the NABS website.

“Our elders carry irreplaceable wisdom, ancestral teachings and traditional languages from their homelands, and we are thankful for all their presence and patience among us,” said NABS CEO Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe). “Right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us are working hard to stay safe and healthy, including isolating from many of our loved ones to protect one another. We want to show our elders how important they are to us and we hope these care packages bring both joy and healing for them.”

Part of NABS’s mission is to build a better understanding of the scope, scale and impacts of Indian boarding schools across the country. As part of its mission, the organization is looking to get to know survivors better and hear their stories. The elder care package request form provides opportunities for survivors and descendants to share something about their experiences related to boarding schools.

In George McCauley’s (Omaha) experience, boarding school shaped his understanding of love, giving and receiving. “In my boarding school days, one of the lessons I learned was not to expect anything from anybody. If I needed or wanted something, I convinced myself that I can get it myself,” said McCauley. “This package of love represents something that many boarding school survivors are not used to – an expression of love for no other reason than you are thought of and you deserve this.”

He said he encourages other survivors and descendants to embrace the care packages. “Accept this well-deserved gift of recognition from NABS and their partners in this effort. Let it symbolize the many gifts we didn’t receive when we were children. May you feel the love and healing to your spirit.”

Those interested in sponsoring one or more packages, or partnering with NABS, can do so at

For information, call Vance Blackfox (Cherokee) at 210-667-7510 or email


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