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Resounds: Kevin Kooistra and Dr. Janine Pease

Dr. Janine Pease (left) and Kevin Kooistra at the YPR studios
Corby Skinner
Dr. Janine Pease (left) and Kevin Kooistra at the YPR studios

Beginning in the 1870s, the U.S. government created boarding schools for the purpose of assimilating Native American youth into “civilized” life. Hundreds of Native children from across Montana were separated from their families, sometimes without contact for years, and sent to schools like the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.

Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories is a travelling exhibit currently at the Western Heritage Center in Billings that details both the generational trauma and isolation caused by this experience as well as the slow reforms enacted on the schools as the graduates themselves became forces for change in tribal politics and Native sovereignty organizations.

Kevin Kooistra is the Executive Director of the Western Heritage Center. He has worked in Montana for more than thirty years as an historian, archaeologist, cultural anthropologist, and scriptwriter. Kooistra has an undergraduate degree from Montana State University Bozeman and a Master’s in Applied Anthropology from Northern Arizona University.

Dr. Janine Pease is an enrolled member of the Crow Indian Tribe and founded the Little Big Horn College, where she served as its first president from 1982 to 2000. Dr. Pease is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the ACLU Jeannette Rankin Award, and the National Indian Educator of the Year Award. Her storied career has focused on education, with her most recent work relating to the preservation of the Crow language, as well as research related to the Crow Indian experience at the Carlisle School for Indians.

Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.