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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Five Native American boarding schools operated in Colorado for decades, federal investigation finds

Five Native American boarding schools operated in Colorado for decades, federal investigation finds

The five Native American boarding schools designed to strip indigenous children of their culture, heritage and language operated in Colorado for decades, a centuries-old federal effort to subjugate the tribes and peoples who have lived on this land for thousands of years. is part of.

The list of Colorado schools, which spanned the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in the state’s southwest corner to Denver, is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s first federal list and investigation to identify federally operated boarding. Schools from the Florida Everglades to the Alaska Tundra.

The first volume of the 106-page report, released Wednesday, was commissioned last year by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first native cabinet member in US history. It said the investigation found evidence of more than 500 deaths of native children.

The findings, which list the locations and years of operation of 408 of these boarding schools in 37 states and territories, mark a serious acknowledgment of the cultural genocide authorized and encouraged by Haaland’s predecessors at the Department of the Interior, and all three Government in branches, for generations.

“Languages, cultures, religions, traditional practices and even the history of native communities—all of it was targeted for destruction,” Holland said during an emotional news conference in Washington, D.C., of the legacy of the Confederate Indian. Nowhere is the comparison clearer. Boarding school.”

Preliminary analysis shows that more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children died in 19 federal boarding schools across the United States, the report said.

The report identified sites marked or unmarked in 53 different schools across the country where Indigenous children were buried – though the department said it expected the number to rise as the investigation continues. The Interior Department is not identifying where the burial sites for grave-robbing and vandalism were found.

The federal investigation identified five Native American boarding schools that once operated in Colorado:

  • Fort Lewis Indian Boarding School in Hesperus, 1892–1956
  • Good Shepherd Industrial School in Denver, 1886-1914
  • Grand Junction Indian School, 1886-1911
  • Southern Ute Boarding School at Ignacio, 1886-1981
  • Ute Mountain Boarding School, Touwak, 1907–1942.

Efforts to search for possible burial sites at the old campus of Fort Lewis College in Hesperus and the Grand Junction location, also known as Taylor Indian School, began last year.

The report said that in Denver, the Good Shepard Industrial School, with a capacity of 150 boarders, was run by the Benedictine (Catholic) Sisters, a local branch of a worldwide Catholic institution dedicated to delinquent girls and young women. Dedicated to improvement. It probably operated under the name Home in the late 1800s. According to the report, Good Shepherd for homeless girls and EM Buyers home for boys.

The results of preliminary investigations showed that religious organizations, such as those in Denver, played a central role in the operation of these schools. The report found that roughly 50% of federal Native American boarding schools may have received support, funding infrastructure, or personnel from a religious institution or organization.

The US may have used money held in tribal trust accounts to fund children attending these schools—including the termination of certain Native American territories to the United States.

“Our children had names; Our children had families; Our children had their own languages; Our children had their own secrets, prayers and religions before Indian boarding schools violently took them away,” Deborah Parker, CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, said during the news conference.

The investigation found that the federal boarding school system “deployed systematic militarization and identity-altering methods in an effort to assimilate American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children.”

James LaBelle Sr. was just 8 years old when he was forced to attend one of these schools as a native Alaskan.

“I learned everything about European-American culture, its history, language, civilization, mathematics and science,” he told the news conference. “But I knew nothing about who I was as a native. I didn’t know who I was.”

Instructors there gave native children English names, cut their hair, limited their use of cultural and religious practices, and forced them to take up military drills. The report’s authors found that the school system focused largely on manual labor and vocational skills, leaving graduates with employment options “often irrelevant to the industrialized American economy, further disrupting tribal economies.”

Students And Staff Of The Fort Lewis Indian School In Durango, Circa 1900.

Courtesy of Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College

Students and staff of the Fort Lewis Indian School in Durango, circa 1900.

Fort Lewis College in Durango has been public in its efforts to reconcile its troubled past, reaching out to Aboriginal nations whose ancestors may have been students at the time, as officials search for any possible graves at the school’s former site. The college also removed plaques from the campus last year that provided a false depiction of the history of its original boarding school.

Fort Lewis College President Tom Striticus said during the panel removal ceremony last year that the real history of the Fort Lewis Indian School is “nothing short of effort and, sadly, the sometimes successful cultural carnage”.

Search is on for missing children at Grand Junction Boarding School as well. University of Colorado Mesa archaeologist John Seeback believes some 21 children may have died and were buried at school, and has been searching for the grave for years.

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