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Arts & Culture

LDF Renovates Boys Dormitory For Community And Cultural Use

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Natalie Jablonski
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Lac du Flambeau held a dedication ceremony for a remodeled historic building today…that remains part of a tragic legacy of federally-run boarding schools.  The Boys Dormitory will now house historic and cultural preservation offices.

The Boys Dormitory building dates back to the boarding school era around the early 1900s, when the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs forced Native American children to go to schools far away from their families.  They weren’t allowed to speak their native language, maintain their cultural identity or even keep their given names.   

Melinda Young, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for Lac du Flambeau, says the conditions could be hard on kids.

“This building was constructed in 1905, and it operated as a boys’ dormitory. It had housed at times a hundred boys, which is a lot for this size of building. We do have reports where the balcony was kind of closed in, and that was used as sleeping areas as well.”

Decades after the Lac du Flambeau boarding school was closed, the dormitory fell into disrepair.  For many years it was used for other things. Now it’s been re-done to replicate the original interior of the dormitory. 

Young says continuing to use the building will ensure that its history doesn’t fade away. 

“Even though it is a painful part of our history, it is a part of our history nonetheless. It should not be forgotten. And I’m working to make sure that it is not forgotten.”

Young says the building will nurture what the boarding school sought to stamp out.  The Boys Dormitory will now house the historic preservation office…Ojibwe language program, and cultural activities program. 

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