Support First Nations on Orange Shirt Day this Thursday, September 28
Orange Shirt Day will be observed in Milwaukee Public Schools on Thursday, September 28, to recognize the lasting traumatic impact of Indian boarding schools. On Thursday, all MPS students, staff, and families are encouraged to show support of First Nations by wearing orange.
First Nations Studies at MPS notes that the day is observed “to honor Indian boarding school survivors and those who did not come home.”
The boarding schools operated mainly from 1819 to 1969 as a means to erase Native American cultures and replace them with mainstream culture. That included renaming children, taking away their tribal clothing, cutting their hair, and forbidding the expression of Native languages and religions.
Indigenous children were removed from their families to be placed in the schools, causing trauma and permanently damaging Indigenous cultures. While at the schools, many children were abused or neglected.
The U.S. Interior Department, in a 2022 report issued after an investigation of the system, estimated that as many as tens of thousands of Native children died at the schools. The report also acknowledges that the U.S. established the schools “as part of a broader objective to dispossess Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages and the Native Hawaiian Community of their territories to support the expansion of the United States.”
The orange shirt is a symbol of reconciliation and of hope for — and commitment to — a better future, according to the Orange Shirt Society.