Border family separations open old wounds

I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing the separation of families at the U.S. border and demanding an immediate halt to this “cruel, tragic” practice. I also want to recognize U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska for requesting a more deliberate bipartisan approach to this issue.

For me and for many, many other Alaska Natives, this issue is personal and resurrects old wounds. As Alaska Natives, we suffered the kidnapping of our children who were interned in boarding schools under the assimilationist policy of the United States. We as individuals and societies continue to suffer the intergenerational trauma from being separated from our families and raised in boarding schools.

When I was six, a missionary kidnapped me in Petersburg and took me to an orphanage in Haines, where I was kept for three years apart from my family. I know first-hand the despair felt by children longing for their loved ones and the terror of being a child alone. I feel my heart breaking all over again when I see children at the border suffering the same trauma today. It breaks my heart to hear their cries.

To the Trump administration, we implore you, we plead with you, to act immediately to stop this barbaric, inhumane act of separating children from their parents and guardians at the border. This practice is morally reprehensible and will become a repeat of previous horrific American Indian policies and practices to eradicate Native cultures. We are proud to be Americans, but this practice does not represent American values and ethics.

Rosita Kaaháni Worl, Ph.D.,

President, Sealaska Heritage Institute

More in Opinion

Juneau City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Bond package ballot proposition is the right thing to do

It is fair and smart to repair structures that are used by many people throughout Juneau

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska sits for an interview Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, at the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: What makes an ‘authentic’ Alaskan?

The claims that a candidate isn’t “Alaskan” and unqualified to represent Alaska are a bit tiresome.

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

Opinion: Dispelling myths following court’s decision

This case has misunderstood political and financial aspects.

Opinion: Alaskans should be honest with each other about budget challenge

It will take a balanced, three-pronged approach.

Sample ballots from the City and Borough of Juneau for the Oct. 6, 2020, municipal election. Voters will be asked to vote on two ballot propositions, one to establish a commission to review the city charter and one issuing $15 million in bonds for infrastructure projects. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: Why I’ll be voting for the bond package

“It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.”

Opinion: Race, ethnicity and minority in America today

We are dangerously close to toppling our house.

Opinion: Alaska State Parks offers open space to meet COVID-19 challenges

The pandemic has disrupted life for many, and Alaska State Parks is no exception.

Opinion: Unveiling the mistruths about Ballot Measure 1

It’s time for supporters of Ballot Measure 1 to come straight with Alaska.

Most Read