The Catholic Church and Indian Schools in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan: A Preliminary Examination of the Historical Archive of the Diocese of MarquetteThe Upper Peninsula of Michigan has been home to different American Indian communities since well before Europeans reached the continent. The first contact between Indians in the Upper Peninsula and Catholic missionaries occurred in the seventeenth century, and, especially in the mid-1800s, many Indians became Catholics themselves. Additionally, at the institutional level, local tribes have had longstanding relationships with Catholics and Catholic institutions. This report is an initial attempt to synthesize relevant information from the historical archive of the Diocese of Marquette to better understand the experience of Indian children who were involved with its schools and orphanages.
In 2021, allegations of negligence, misconduct, and abuse at Canadian Indian Residential Schools raised serious concerns about the historical relationship between the Catholic Church and Indian communities in Canada. These allegations have been an invitation to the Catholic Church in the United States to examine its own history more closely. This report is only preliminary and limited in scope, but it is hoped that it can provide a starting point for understanding the shared history between the Catholic Church and Indian tribes in the Upper Peninsula. Additionally, this report may provide a useful basis for future, more comprehensive studies.
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