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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

US identifies Native American boarding schools, burial sites

The first federal study of its kind of Native American boarding schools, which for more than a century has sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society, has identified more than 400 schools that have been recognized by the U.S. government and more than 50. Allied burial sites were supported. A figure that could rise rapidly as research continues.

The report, released Wednesday by the Department of the Interior, expanded the number of schools that operated for 150 years, dating back to the early 19th century and coinciding with the removal of many tribes from their ancestral lands.

The dark history of boarding schools – where children were taken away from their families, forbidden to speak their Native American language and often abused – has been deeply felt throughout the Indian nation and through generations. .

Many children never returned home. Investigations so far have found more than 500 deaths in 19 schools, although the Interior Department said the number could go up to the thousands or even tens of thousands.

“Many of those children were buried in unmarked or poorly maintained burial sites, often hundreds or thousands of miles away from their Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, Native Hawaiian community and families,” the report said.

The Interior Department said the second section of the report will cover burial sites as well as the federal government’s financial investment in schools and the effects of boarding schools on Indigenous communities.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement, “The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies – including intergenerational trauma caused by family separation and cultural eradication on generations of children under the age of 4 – are heartbreaking and undeniable. “

Haaland, who is Laguna, last June announced an initiative to investigate the troubled legacy of boarding schools and uncover the truth about the government’s role in them. The 408 schools that her agency has identified operate in 37 states or territories, many of them in Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Interior Department acknowledged that the number of schools identified could change as more data is collected. Brian Newland, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Department for Indian Affairs, said the coronavirus pandemic and budget restrictions hampered some research over the past year.

The department has so far found at least 53 burial sites, both marked and unmarked, in or near US boarding schools.

The US government ran some boarding schools directly. Catholic, Protestant, and other churches operated with federal funding backed by American laws and policies to “civilize” Native Americans.

The Interior Department report was prompted by the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites in Canada that brought back painful memories for Indigenous communities.

Haaland also announced a year-long tour Wednesday for Interior Department officials that will help former boarding school students from Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages and Native Hawaiian communities share their stories as part of a permanent oral history collection. will allow sharing.

“My priority is not only to give a voice to the survivors and descendants of federal Indian boarding school policies, but also to address the enduring legacy of these policies so that Indigenous peoples can continue to grow and recover,” he said.

Boarding school conditions varied across the US and Canada. While some former students have reported positive experiences, children in schools were often subjected to military-style discipline and had long hair cut.

The initial curriculum focused heavily on older vocational skills including house building for girls.

Tribal leaders have put pressure on the agency to ensure that any remains of the children are properly looked after and, if desired, returned to their tribes. Newland said the locations of the burial sites would not be publicly released so as not to be disturbed.

Keeping an account of the whereabouts of children who died has become difficult as records were not always kept. In some places, ground penetrating radars have been used to locate the remains.

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, which created a preliminary list of schools, said interior work would be an important step for the US given its role in schools, but noted that the agency’s authority was limited.

Later this week, a US House subcommittee will hear testimony on a bill to create a Truth and Remedy Commission in Canada after another. Several church groups are supporting the law.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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