At the turn of the century, many Native American children were forcibly placed in boarding schools. At the time, the Native way of life was thought to be sub-human and savage and the schools were intended to “civilize” and educate. In the process, many forms of abuse occurred and are now documented in a film called “Unseen Tears: Native American Boarding Schools in Western New York,” which discusses the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse.
The Symposium on Genocide and Human Rights at Hobart and William Smith Colleges will screen “Unseen Tears” on Tuesday, April 2, at 7 p.m. in the Sanford Room. Ruchatneet Printup, co-producer of the documentary, will attend and discuss the film following the screening. The event is free and open to the public.
“Unseen Tears” focuses on the Thomas Indian School and the Mohawk Institute – Native American boarding schools in Western New York. In the film, survivors speak about the separation from their families, abuse, and the systematic assault on their language and culture. The film was directed and edited by Ron Douglas, and produced by Ruchatneet Printup, Michael Martin, and the Native American Services of Erie and Niagara Counties, Inc.
Printup is currently the Director of Community and Cultural Services at Native American Community Services in Buffalo, N.Y., who brought to attention the abuses. He lives on the Tuscarora Nation with his wife and children.
The documentary was also produced by Native American Community Services and is often screened in correspondence with panel discussions and in academic environments in order to raise awareness on the issues of the abuses to the Native American community as an ethnic group in hope for conflict resolution.
The Genocide and Human Rights series is supported by the Offices of the President and the Provost, the Fisher Center, the Department of Religious Studies, the Zachor Fund of Rochester, and by Hobart alumnus Dr. Edward P. Franks ’72.
By sponsoring the series, the Hobart and William Smith community hopes to improve understanding of all life-annihilation processes inherent in our modern world and to help participants learn more about the circumstances under which life-destruction processes tend to focus on specific groups in events known as genocide. The discussion series features numerous speakers, as well as faculty-student reading groups and special seminars.