- By Jenna Kunze
Arizona House Democrats have signed onto a bill asking the Department of the Interior take a closer look at former Indian boarding school grounds in their state.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, notes that Arizona has been home to the second-most Indian boarding school facilities in the nation at 51, second only to Oklahoma at 83.
Those boarding school numbers are based on preliminary research conducted over the past ten years by the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. Representatives from the coalition say that the Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative is likely to find more schools and with that, more cemeteries holding childrens’ remains.
Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.
The primary goal of the initiative, announced in June by Secretary Deb Haaland in an effort to shed light on the dark history of the Indian Boarding School System, is to identify boarding school sites; the location of known and possible student burial sites located at or near school facilities; and the identities and tribal affiliations of children interred at such locations, via a report due to be released in April.
It is unclear how exactly the Department of the Interior will engage with each state’s tribal populations after the report is released. By taking action now, Jermaine and the Arizona House Democrats aren’t willing to wait to see what and how the federal initiative will include them.
Jermaine told Native News Online via email that, outside of the federal investigation, an investigation into former boarding school grounds in the state “is an issue we have been talking about and working on for four years,” she wrote. “We have done legislative proclamations for the last three years and a formal request to DOI this year.”
“We have not received updates on the federal investigation or the proposed timeline for the 51 Arizona based campuses,” Jermaine said. “Many of our MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples) cold cases date back to the boarding school era and families believe there are ties to their missing loved ones.”
Tell Us What You Think
More Stories Like ThisNavajo Nation Leaders Recognized the Fallen on Memorial Day
This Day in History — May 28, 1830, Andrew Jackson Signs Indian Removal Act
Native News Weekly (May 28, 2023): D.C. Briefs
Oklahoma Legislature Overrides Governor Stitt’s Veto of Native Regalia Bill
Native Bidaské with Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire on the Opioid Crisis
Native News is free to read.
We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps. Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.