Winner:Indian Boarding Schools

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Winning Nomination

Ditched
A first grader, a federal boarding school.
Pipestone
Said Aaniin to the first grown up
got an icy blue eyed stare in return
Got a beating from a second grader
for crying about the stare
Couldn't tell maw or dad
both were 300 miles away
Couldn't write, didn't know how
Couldn't mail, didn't know how
Runaway, got caught
Got an icy blue eyed stare and a beating
Got another beating from a second grader
for crying about the blue eyed beating
Institutionalized
Toughed it out
Survived

Here is a story of the nights at boarding school: The dormitory was a huge room with rows and rows of beds. A boy at one end would begin quietly crying. Maybe he was crying because he was homesick, maybe he was crying because he had been beat up. Whatever the reason the boys on either side of him would tell him to quit crying. When he wouldn't stop they would be reminded how homesick they were and begin crying too. We could hear the wave of crying start at one end of the dormitory and come traveling down until the boy in the next bed was crying and I was sobbing too. After a night like that we all got up and pretended like it didn't happen.

And now a story about running away: After a couple months at the boarding school I wanted to see my mother's face. There was always talk around the school about runaways so I thought I would try. My older sister Judy tried to talk me out of it but couldn't. She walked me to the rear gate of the school and told me two things, one was that we came to that school on Highway 23, if I just followed the signs north I would get close to home. She also told me to tell maw to send her some candy when I got home. I was six years old. I began walking north on 23, the thought of going home kept me putting one foot in front of the other. After a long time walking I found a hawk foot on the side of the road.

What a treasure, I thought, no one else I knew owned a hawk foot. It smelled a little ripe but I didn't mind because now I had company on my long walk home.

It was just getting dark when I heard a car sliding to a stop behind me. The doors opened and two big white people came running towards me. I turned and ran into the corn field. They chased me up and down the rows of corn. I even used my fall down-ball up trick once before they caught me and dragged me back to the car. Once in the car they told me I had made it nine miles. That's when they noticed my smell. One man took the hawk foot our of my pocket and threw it in the ditch. I don't remember the beating I got back at the school but I do remember feeling bad about that hawk foot. Later as an adult I learned area farmers were paid a bounty for reporting or capturing runaway Indian children.

Jim Northrup, Sawyer, MN

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