Tuesday evening (11/2) at 6:00pm, Native survivors of clergy abuse, members of the Menominee Tribe, and allies will gather at the Keshena Pavilion for an awareness walk and candlelight vigil to honor the lives of children who were abused and died at Catholic-run Indian residential schools in Wisconsin. In observance of All Soul’s Day in the Catholic Church, participants will walk from the Keshena Pavilion to St. Michael’s Church, where unmarked graves are located behind the church.
On June 22nd, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland opened the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to investigate the abuse and deaths of children at residential schools. The investigation was prompted by the confirmation that over 1,000 Indigenous children are buried in unmarked graves near residential schools in Canada. With over 367 boarding schools, 156 of them associated with the Catholic Church, the United States had over twice as many schools as Canada. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition estimates that hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children attended these schools between 1869 and the 1960s. Twelve boarding schools were located in Wisconsin.
Survivors and activists from the Menominee Tribe are calling on Attorney General Josh Kaul to include sexual abuse that occurred at Catholic-run Indian residential schools and parishes as a part of his Clergy and Faith Leader Abuse investigation.
Additionally, they are asking for a meeting with Kaul to discuss his office’s outreach to current survivors of abuse. Thus far, members of the Menominee Tribe are not aware of any outreach by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to Indigenous communities regarding the Clergy and Faith Leader investigation.
In response to the candlelight vigil, administrators of the Green Bay Diocese have threatened to call the police to have survivors of child sexual abuse and advocates arrested. Bishop Ricken has not agreed to meet with Indigenous survivors despite multiple attempts by members of the Menominee Tribe to contact the diocese to schedule a meeting. Indigenous survivors of clergy sexual abuse are asking for all Catholic dioceses and religious orders in Wisconsin possessing documentation and evidence of historical and current criminal acts of abuse against Indigenous people to be turned over to investigators with the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the United States Department of the Interior.
Survivors, their friends and family, or anyone who has information about the church’s response to abuse are encouraged to report clergy and faith leader abuse online at SupportSurvivors.widoj.gov or by calling 877-222-2620.