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Organizers urge AG to investigate abuse of Menominee children attending Catholic schools

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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KESHENA, Wis. (WBAY) - Dozens gathered under a pavilion in Keshena for a candlelight vigil to bring awareness to the children who were abused by the Catholic Church at Indigenous residential and boarding schools.

“I am a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of the church, during that period they treated us in a manner that is not consistent with who we are as a people,” said Dewey Schanandore who claimed to have attended St. Anthony’s grade school during the 1950s.

This is an issue Action 2 News has previously covered. The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay ran two schools on the Menominee Indian Reservation.

Participants of Tuesday evening’s event walked to St. Michael’s Church where behind it there are several unmarked graves of Menominee children.

“People buried in the gravesites, there doesn’t seem to be any documentation about how these people died,” said Schanandore.

The groups End Clergy Abuse and Nate’s Mission took part in Tuesday’s events.

“It’s been this invisible trauma, and the people who really know about it, and are responsible about it, and have the archives and the records about it are the Catholic Church, the Diocese of Green Bay for instance,” said Peter Isely, a founding member of End Clergy Abuse.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is already investigating abuse within the state’s catholic dioceses. Yet, those at Tuesday’s walk organizers were urging Kaul to expand that investigation to include the schools Indigenous children were forced to attend.

In a statement to Action 2 News, Attorney General Kaul said the history of Indian boarding schools is shameful and disturbing.

Action 2 News also reached out to the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay who in a statement, says “the diocese is committed and open to ongoing discussions with the Menominee community.”

Last month, Governor Tony Evers apologized for the state’s role in Indigenous boarding schools saying, “For more than a century between the 1860s and 1970s, the U.S. federal government induced and coerced thousands of Native American children from their families and homes, placing them into boarding schools funded by the U.S. government operated by the government and religious organizations.”

Below is a copy of Kaul and the diocese’s full statements:

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