Our Ancestors Risked Their Lives

Mary Annette Pember
Indian Country Today

ODANAH, Wisconsin — It was the blue ceiling that got me.

Although St. Mary’s Catholic Church is tiny, its vaulted ceiling soars to an unexpected height. It’s an impossible robin’s egg blue or the hue of a blue sky that could never exist. Unexpectedly, it drove my heart into my throat, where it stayed for several minutes. That blue color obliterated journalistic objectivity, placing me back into a wordless, needy childhood.

I realized at last that the ceiling was the same color as the little blue Virgin Mary medal that lived between my mother’s breasts, fixed to her brassiere with a safety pin. That medal would gaze back at me when we laid down in bed together for afternoon naps, at bedtime or just to visit. Those were the times she told me the Sister School stories, her life at St. Mary’s Catholic Indian boarding school and her childhood on the Bad River Ojibwe Reservation in Wisconsin.

The little church is all that remains now of the mission school buildings. 

Read more the entire article at: https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/our-ancestors-risked-their-lives-and-freedom

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