(CNSNews.com) – First lady Michelle Obama told graduates of the Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, N.M., last week that “some of the loudest voices in our national conversation” say it’s okay to harm the planet and use our land, air and water “however we wish.”
“Your communities need you. They need you to develop your potential and become who you’re meant to be, and that goes for every student in here who is thinking about dropping out, who is feeling discouraged. Your community needs you, and more than ever before, our world needs you, too,” she said during commencement exercises on Thursday.
“And you don’t need your first lady to tell you that. All you have to do is tune in to the news, and you’ll see that right now, some of the loudest voices in our national conversation are saying things that go against every single one of the values that you’ve been living at this school,” Mrs. Obama said.
“They’re telling us that we should disrespect others because of who they are or where they come from or how they worship. They’re telling us that we should be selfish – that folks who are struggling don’t deserve our help, that we should just take what we can from life and not worry about anyone else,” she said.
“And they’re saying that it’s okay to keep harming our planet and using our land, our air, our water however we wish,” Mrs. Obama added.
“You have taken your place in the long line of those before you whose continued survival in the face of overwhelming threats should inspire you every day of your lives -- every day. I’m talking about many of your ancestors who came together to lead a revolt, risking their lives to preserve their traditions,” Mrs. Obama said.
“I’m talking about your predecessors at this school who defied the rules by speaking their languages and running away to attend ceremonial dances back home, and I’m talking about the leaders who reclaimed and reopened this school for you, rebuilding it in your image and the image of your communities,” she added.
The Santa Fe Indian School (SFIS) teaches students from kindergarten through 12th grade. According to its website, SFIS “was established in 1890 to educate the Native American children from the tribes throughout the southwest.”
It was “established by the federal government during the Boarding School era with a charge to assimilate the native child. The established belief at that time was if you could remove an Indian child from their community, prohibit them from practicing their native language and beliefs, you could remove the cultural and individual identity of the children providing the opportunity to impart new standards for living the American way of life.”