fbpx
 

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) will outline the Interior Department’s next steps to “begin to reconcile the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies” on June 22 during the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 2021 Mid Year Conference, the department announced Monday. 

The announcement follows the recent discovery of a mass unmarked grave of 215 Indigenous children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. The finding was met by widespread media coverage, reopening the conversation around the harm and trauma wrought by the federal boarding school systems for Indigenous peoples in the U.S. and Canada. 

On June 11, Haaland called for acknowledgement of the past and present impacts of the boarding school system in an op-ed published in The Washington Post. 

"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,” Haaland wrote. 

There were 357 Indian boarding schools operating throughout the U.S. from 1819 to the 1960s. In 1925, more than 60,000 children attended the schools. The federal government and church organizations were responsible for managing the schools, where students were forbidden from practicing their culture or speaking their native language, and many endured physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse. 

The Canadian residential school system operated from the 1880s to the late 1990s for the same purpose: taking Indigenous children from their families and stripping them of their culture. There, Indigenous children experienced similar horrors of physical and sexual abuse, as well as high mortality rates in the schools. 

Poor, overcrowded conditions and disease led to thousands of student deaths in the boarding school systems, and many students’ remains were not returned to their families. The harmful intergenerational effects of the schools lives on in many Indigenous communities in the U.S. and Canada. 

Along with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, Haaland will announce the next steps in addressing the legacy of the U.S. federal boarding school system during the NCAI’s “Department of the Interior Update” at 2:50 p.m. EDT.

The conference’s full agenda, which runs from June 20-24, is accessible here. You can still register for the conference here.

More Stories Like This

Tribes in Oklahoma Take to Social Media to Criticize Oklahoma Governor Stitt’s MLK Jr. Comments
Native News Weekly (January 16, 2022): D.C. Briefs
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes to Host Annual "Would Jesus Eat Frybread?" Conference
Navajo Nation President Addresses Arizona State Legislature on Issues Facing Navajo People
Hundreds Gather for Clyde Bellecourt’s Funeral Services in Minneapolis

The truth about Indian Boarding Schools

This month, we’re asking our readers to help us raise $10,000 to fund our year-long journalism initiative called “The Indian Boarding School Project: A Dark Chapter in History.”  Our mission is to shine a light on the dark era of forced assimilation of native American children by the U.S. government and churches.  You’ll be able to read stories each week and join us for Livestream events to understand what the Indian Boarding School era has meant to Native Americans — and what it still means today.

This news will be provided free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts.  Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Andrew Kennard
Author: Andrew KennardEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Reporting Intern
Andrew Kennard is a reporting intern for Native News Online. Kennard is pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism at Drake University and has worked as a staff writer for the Times-Delphic, the Drake student-produced weekly newspaper. This fall, he will work as the Times-Delphic’s News Editor.