Storyteller Shares Troubling Tale of American Indian Boarding Schools

Dovie Thomason, a Lakota and Kiowa Apache, and featured teller at the upcoming 33rd Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival, explores this tragic chapter in our nation’s history.
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First Nations of North America


St. Louis - Missouri - US


April 10, 2012 - PRLog -- ST. LOUIS – The 33rd Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival presents a special event titled “The Spirit Survives,” which explores the forcible use of American Indian Boarding Schools. Lakota and Kiowa Apache Dovie Thomason, who is also a featured teller at the Festival, will share the accounts of this tragic chapter of our nation’s history at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 3 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis’ J.C. Penney Conference Center.

“One of the most compelling stories of our history surrounds the Indian residential schools following the Indian Wars,” says Becky Walstrom, executive director of the St. Louis Storytelling Festival. “An often unknown history of these schools and the impact they left on the first boarders and subsequent generations is crucial to understanding and valuing the American Indian culture and history today.”

For decades the First Nations of North America suffered the loss of their children to government boarding schools, where they were forcibly “re-educated” to assimilation and “civilization,” at the cost of culture and identity. Storyteller Thomason introduces her listeners to the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and its broad-reaching impact on Indian and non-Indian people since its inception in 1879 and far beyond its closing in 1918. Thomason shades this history with personal memoir, biography of indigenous activists and culture keepers of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the impact of the boarding schools on Indian people today.

Thomason’s story explores the inner resources that enabled the spirit and identity of Native peoples to survive, and raises provocative questions for all contemporary Americans: “Why does this matter to Americans in the 21st century? Can we learn from this? What must be done that we can move on?” With honor, compassion and imagination, Thomason helps her audience become “comfortable with discomfort,” in a journey of respect and reconciliation.

“Although painful, it is part of our history and a legacy that must be shared and told,” Walstrom says. “Stories such as this are usually not part of our history books.”

Thomason is a former high school teacher and college professor, and both a traditional and professional storyteller. Her passion for sharing heritage grew from an elementary school teacher who taught her history class that “Indians are extinct.” Her desire to give people a clearer understanding of the misunderstood, often invisible cultures of the First Nations of North America has led to her telling the old stories of her people.

“The Spirit Survives” is a free event and is open to the public. Registration to attend is not required, however it is requested. Attendees may call (314) 516-5994 to reserve their seat. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 3, in Room 402 of the J.C. Penney Conference Center on UMSL’s North Campus.

This event is part of the 33rd Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival, which begins Wednesday, May 2, and ends Saturday, May 5. During this four-day festival, nationally known and regional storytellers will join UMSL with storytelling activities and events at various locations throughout the Metropolitan St. Louis area. Stories shared are suitable for all members of the family, and most events are offered free to the public. For a complete schedule, full list of featured and regional storytellers, and more information, please visit or call (314) 516-5960.

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About UMSL CE:
The UMSL Division of Continuing Education provides programs that fulfill degree completion, professional development and personal enrichment goals for the lifelong learner. For more information, please visit
Source:University of Missouri–St. Louis
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