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WASHINGTON – In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), the nation’s first Native American presidential cabinet secretary, said the United States needs to address the abuse in Indian boarding schools.

Haaland referenced the recent discovery of an unmarked mass grave in Canada containing the remains of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of a closed-down residential school in Canada.

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Haaland tells the story of her maternal grandparents who “stolen” from their families when only 8-years-olds and put in Indian boarding schools.

She also recounts her great-grandfather attended Carlisle Indian School:

“My great-grandfather was taken to Carlisle Indian in Pennsylvania. Its founder coined the phrase ‘kill the Indian, and save the man,’ which genuinely reflects the influences that framed these policies at the time.”

In the op-ed, Haaland cites the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthen tribal sovereignty.

As she concludes, Haaland the country must acknowledge the painful truths of the Indian boarding schools.

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"Though it is uncomfortable to learn that the country you love is capable of committing such acts, the first step to justice is acknowledging these painful truths and gaining a full understanding of their impacts so that we can unravel the threads of trauma and injustice that linger,” she writes.

CLICK to read Secretary Haaland's entire op-ed. 

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These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

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