The whole matter of the Mohawk Institute, the residential school established for the Six Nations by the Anglican Church, is highly controversial here. The "party line" is well known, with former attendees being labelled students, then "victims", then "survivors" of what came to be termed the "Mush Hole". In reality it was the Chiefs who in 1838 requested the residential school be set up on Reserve land, and who in 1970 pleaded with the Canadian Government not to close down the school as it had served an important role in the education of those at Six Nations. Elders told of seeing the school as a shelter from dysfunction at home, where at least they were fed and they learned something worthwhile.
However, despite these facts, many at Six Nations buy into the view that the Mohawk Institute was a place of horrors, where children were mistreated, murdered and tossed into mass graves, and other and unproven outlandish claims. This view largely emerged out of the "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" (TRC) which ultimately used some unfortunate situations in one part of Canada to paint broad strokes and demonize the entire system of education which gave many the entry into the wider world allowing them to make a success of their lives, not simply drifting back to a home community where dysfunction was the order of the day long before the introduction of residential schools.
Here follows the postings made to this blog about the subject of the Mohawk Institute; the rationale being that having all the information in one place rather than scattered among 200 postings would facilitate access to the data. While there is overlap, each posting is categorized under the heading that seems to be most salient.
1) Detailed overview: A recent comprehensive balanced look at the Mohawk Institute based on facts not beliefs - click here.
2) General information:
Click here for the earliest exploration into the matter on this blog.
3) Hoaxer involvement:
For years now the Mohawk Institute has attracted hoaxers and those with an axe to grind - click here. It is mind boggling that so many at Six Nations simply uncritically accepted these absurd allegations, then went about trying to convince all that the fantasy was the truth. These hoaxes and the role of K.A. are woven into the links both above and below.
4) Entrenched belief that murdered children buried around the Mohawk Institute:
There are many at Six Nations who are conspiracy theorists and believe that there are numerous bodies of children, murdered at the Mohawk Institute, that were cast out into mass graves - even to the extent of using ground penetrating radar to seek out these supposed remains. The fact that only animal bone has been found does not deter the belief of many. Click here to see evidence that the inevitable deaths at the Mohawk Institute (of disease) were dealt with sensitively, with the bodies being buried by the Anglican ministers in the cemetery at the Mohawk Chapel across the road from the Mohawk Institute.
5) Residential School is used as a reason for the dysfunction at Six Nations:
Click here. More of the blame game so prevalent at Six Nations.
6) Involvement of lawyers and financial reward:
Click here. Lawyers still trying to extract more money from the Government by encouraging more persons to hop on the gravy train, thereby enriching themselves and their "clients".
7) Summary: I am not speaking here about the situation in say Alberta since I have not sifted through the evidence, but only what happened at Six Nations, where I have explored the relevant data.
The Mohawk Institute, the residential school located physically on the Six Nations Reserve, was an educational institution supported by the Chiefs (and thus the Clan Mothers) from the year it opened (1838) to the year it closed (1970) when the elected Chiefs petitioned to allow it to remain open. Most of the Six Nations teachers of the time were educated there, and it was here that many found a launching pad to success in the wider world.
With the TRC came an entire change in perception. Those with a vested interest in portraying the Mohawk Institute in the same boat as the worst of the Residential Schools out west, came up with a catchy name, the "Mush Hole" to enhance the evil reputation they were intent on cultivating. They collected "stories" or "recollections" from those who chose to come forth - but many didn't because they could not in all conscience depict their school, frequently recalled with fondness, in a way that would meet the wishes of the detractors who promised "compensation" if you would step forward and claim to be a "survivor".
People started coming out of the woodwork and all sorts of crazy theories surfaced (the mass graves being the most egregious) and ultimately for many it boiled down to how much money could be had by playing along and recalling horrible things (all of which happened at day school to those of us in earlier times) that could sound convincing to those wanting to compile examples of lurid experiences that could be tied to "school days".
The fact that the Ontario Government wishes to include the experiences (only the negative ones of course) in the Ontario school curriculum is a farce which will implant a false picture in the minds of children across the Province. The grovelling apologies of officials in the Anglican Church and the various levels of Government (who clearly either did not have all the facts, or chose to be politically correct) was a positively sickening aspect of this business, as is the fact that there are those even outside Native circles who are profiting from the perpetuation of the party line, the truth being unimportant and an encumbrance.
I am very pleased that there is a move afoot to save the Mohawk Institute from demolition. It has served many functions at Six Nations including housing a unique library of Six Nations culture, history and language that is in my opinion unparalleled. What is galling is the the rationale for putting a new roof on the building, and ultimately restoring it, is to "save the evidence" - meaning that it will act as a testament to the residential schools era and include tours that will explain the horrid things that allegedly happened there. It will then be somewhat similar to the old Kingston Penitentiary where tours through this historic structure are now being organized. The big difference, however, is that the historical truth will be told at one (although likely from the guard's perspective), while the other will in all probability offer up only a skewed version of events that fit the political mold - a balanced consideration of all the facts and the truth being assiduously avoided.