Forgiving the unforgivable, to salve generational trauma
December 1, 2017 8:24 AM   Subscribe

After 30+ years fighting the US military and American settlers, Chiricahua Apache medicine man Geronimo surrendered to the US government in 1886. Geronimo and 341 other Chiricahua then became permanent prisoners of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where their children were sent to schools designed to strip them of their language and cultural identity. Journalist Anna Badkhen recently traveled to a small town in the Sierra Madre Occidental of northern Mexico, where Geronimo's descendants performed the Ceremonia del Perdón — a Ceremony of Forgiveness, celebrated their lineage and honored their roots in the very mountains where their ancestors denounced and hid theirs to survive. As the Apache try to forgive, Badkhen tries, in her words, “to learn what forgiveness is and whether it is possible.” (Via: 1 and 2)
posted by zarq (3 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
When I taught art at Monument Valley High School, it was part of my job to make the posters of behavioral expectations to go all around the school. So I set it up as agreements, that we would all make to keep the place safe, tidy, and so forth. I used a big image with each poster, and for the auditorium I gave the kids the choice of Geronimo or John Wayne. So, of course, Geronimo won out. What a horrifically sad tale of woe that of Geronimo, his wives, his children and grandchildren. I am glad these people found themselves, and keep safe in their various locales and still love the Earth as they do. It is hard to forgive when the damage is relentlessly going forward. They are a very special group to even try.
posted by Oyéah at 2:02 PM on December 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

That was an incredible and incredibly expansive essay. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Grandysaur at 6:59 PM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wish I'd read something like this in Oklahoma history class in 1999.
posted by kwaller at 3:37 PM on December 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

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