Interior Department says 408 federal boarding schools tried to assimilate Native American children

Interior Department says 408 federal boarding schools tried to assimilate Native American children
The department released Wednesday a long awaited review from past efforts by the federal government to assimilate Native American children into white American society by separating them from their families and stripping them of their languages ​​and cultures.

The review notes that from 1819 to 1969 there were 408 federal schools in 37 states. The largest concentration of schools was in what is now the state of Oklahoma with 76 institutions, followed by 47 schools in Arizona and 43 in New Mexico, the report said.

Children and adolescents in these schools were subjected to “systematic militarized and identity-altering methodologies” by the federal government, which included getting English names, haircuts, wearing military or other uniforms, and being prohibited from wearing their native languages ​​and practice their religions, the report states.

Those rules “were often enforced through punishment, including corporal punishment, such as solitary confinement, flogging, starvation, … whipping.”[,]’Slap or slap,'” according to the report.

Initial research found that 19 boarding schools accounted for the deaths of more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children, but the number of recorded deaths is expected to rise.

Indian Affairs Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland said the country had not previously tried to explain the scope of the boarding school policy. The report, he said, is an “opportunity to” reorient federal policies to support the revitalization of tribal languages ​​and cultural practices” and “counter nearly two centuries of policies aimed at their destruction.”

“Together, we can help start a healing process for the Indian Country, the Native Hawaiian community, and across the United States, from the Alaskan tundra to the Florida Everglades, and everywhere in between,” Newland said in a statement.

In an emotional news conference on Wednesday, Haaland said the consequences of the boarding school’s policies are “heartbreaking and undeniable.”

He said the policies had affected the lives of tens of thousands of children, like their maternal grandparents, who were forced to live in boarding schools at the age of 8, with an unknown number of them never returning home.

“Each one of those children is a missing family member, a person who was unable to fulfill their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system,” Haaland said.

His children disappeared in an indigenous boarding school.  This tribe is bringing them home after 140 years.

As Haaland said one of his priorities goes beyond acknowledging the impacts of the boarding school system to promoting healing among indigenous peoples, he announced that a group of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian survivors will begin a year-long tour all over the country. to share their stories and “facilitate the collection of a permanent oral history”.

Deborah Parker, executive director of the National Healing Coalition of Native American Boarding SchoolsHe said the report’s release was a “historic moment.”

“It reaffirms the stories we all grew up with. The truth of our people and the immense torture our elders and ancestors often went through as children at the hands of the federal government and religious institutions,” Parker said.

But Parker said there is still a lot of work to be done.

“After generations, we still don’t know how many children attended, how many children died, and/or how many children were permanently scarred for life by these federal institutions.”

The department said the report released Wednesday is not complete and is only the first volume of the initiative’s findings.

The department is expected to continue investigating Indian boarding schools through fiscal year 2022 and produce a second review that will determine the locations of marked or unmarked burial sites, identify children buried at such locations and federal funds tied to the schools. .

Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and CEO of IllumiNative, described the boarding school policies as one of the darkest moments in the nation’s history and said she hopes the report will lead to justice.

“We cannot begin to heal until all unmarked graves are accounted for and all of our children are returned home. We look forward to a longer journey to justice beginning today,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional details on Wednesday.

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