RIVERSIDE, Cailf. — “The Road to Healing” tour made a stop at the Sherman Indian High School, the oldest Indian boarding school in California, in Riverside for its eighth stop of the tour on Friday morning.

Friday's session led by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) was one more piece of the Interior Departments collaborative efforts to address the intergenerational impact of federal Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in tribal communities across Indian Country.

Secretary Haaland greeted the crowd of some 250 people by thanking them for their willingness to share their important stories about their Indian boarding schools experiences. 

"Federal Indian boarding school policies have impacted every single Indigenous person I know. Some are survivors, some are descendants, but we all carry this painful legacy in our hearts regardless of who we are. And how we got here. deeply ingrained in so many of us is the trauma that these policies and these places have inflicted on our people," Secretary Haaland said.

Among those in attendance were San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chariwoman Lynn Valbuena, Pechanga Band of Indians Chariman Mark Macarro, U.S. Rep. Mark Tafanko (D-CA-3), and survivors, decendants of Indian boarding school students and other tribal citizens.

"It's heartbreaking to listen to the stories of the boys being forced to cut off their hair. The children who were disciplined and beaten for speaking their own language and to hear the stories of people talking about trying to get the parents to teach in the language and how traumatized their parents were.It's very difficult to listen to," Rep. Tafanko said to Native News Online after the listening session.

Pechanga Band of Indians Chairman Mark Maccaro and U.S. Rep. Mark Takano


With Friday’s listening session, to date Haaland and Newland have held eight listening sessions. Previous hearings were in: Anadarko, Oklahoma; Pellston, Michigan; Mission, South Dakota; Gila River Indian Community, near Phoenix, Arizona, Many Farms, Arizona on the Navajo Nation; and Tulalip Indian Reservation, near Seattle, Washington; and Mille Lacs Indian Commuity in Onamia, Minnesota.

The Road to Healing tour will host another listening session on Sunday, August 6, 2023 at the Graton Resort and Casino, 288 Golf Course Dr W, Rohnert Park, California.

















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Levi Rickert
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Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].