What happens when hidden histories become a national conversation?

June is National Indigenous History month — a time to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of the many nations across this land. But much of that history continues to be unacknowledged in the mainstream, and even hidden.
Katherine Cooper from the Mosakahiken Cree Nation in Manitoba consoles her friends at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School at a growing memorial to honour the estimated 215 children whose remains have been discovered buried in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

This episode originally aired on June 13, 2021.

June is National Indigenous History month. It's a time to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of the many nations across this land. But for a long time Indigenous history wasn't celebrated, or even acknowledged. Often, it was hidden. 

This week on Unreserved, we're talking about what happens when hidden histories come to light, and pull everyone into the conversation.

At the end of May, news that the remains of more than 200 children had been found at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School, seemed to mark an awakening across the country. Many Canadians were shocked to learn about the violence of residential schools. 

But for many Indigenous communities, this wasn't "news" at all. 

Daniel Heath Justice is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, author and professor. He teaches Critical Indigenous Studies and English at the University of British Columbia. He says non-Indigenous people have an obligation to learn more about this history and teach one another. 
Children's shoes on the steps of the church at the Sipekne'katik First Nation. (CBC)

Host Falen Johnson is learning about her own family history and its potential connections to the Underground Railroad. She has Tuscarora lineage on her father's side and has heard stories that the Tuscaroras travelled to Six Nations using the route of the Underground Railroad. To explore that more, Falen speaks with Robert Keith Collins, a historian from San Francisco State University; Pura Fé, a blues singer and member of the Tuscarora Nation; and Roy Finkenbine, who teaches history at the University of Detroit Mercy and is writing a book called, Freedom Seekers in Indian Country.

Back in the fall, we dove into the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower's arrival in Massachusetts. Wampanoag historian Linda Jeffers Coombs has devoted much of her life to challenging inaccuracies about what happened when pilgrims arrived on the shores of her nation. One myth is the story of Squanto — the friendly Wampanoag translator for the English. Coombs says the reality includes themes of disease and slavery. 

This week's Playlist
Lloyd Cheechoo (Courtesy of Lloyd Cheechoo)

Lloyd Cheechoo — Winds of Change

Iskwé — Unforgotten (Stars Mix)