- By Levi Rickert
ALBUQUERQUE – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) returned to her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico for a listening session on the 11th stop of The Road to Healing on Sunday. Before serving as Interior secretary, Haaland represented New Mexico’s 1st congressional district, which included Albuquerque in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Her task was different on Sunday. She was there with Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community) to hear testimony from survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and their descendants.
Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland
"I'm so happy to be back home and be with all of you this morning. As we embark on this journey together, it's an honor to join with you on the ancestral homeland," Haaland said.
Sunday’s listening session was one piece of the Interior Department’s collaborative efforts to address the intergenerational impact of federal Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in tribal communities.h e
Among the crowd were various leaders from several New Mexico pueblos. Also in attendance was Tunica-Buloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite, from Marksville, Louisiana.
Pierite, who is running for president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), said he felt it was important to come to hear firsthand the Indian boarding school stories from the survivors and their families.
"It was very important to hear the truth of what happened in these baording schools. I am very proud of Secretary Haaland having these hearings because this is what will begin the healing process," Pierite told Native News Online.
Tunica-Buloxi Tribe Chairman Marshall Pierite with Stehpanie Poston and Jenni Monet.
On Sunday, Isidore Jaramillo (Isleta Pueblo), 77, recounted his story of attending the Albuquerque Indian Boarding School seven decades later. He told the story of one of the employees of the boarding school who took showers with the boys who attended the school.
Jaramillo said one evening, the employee invited him, when he was seven-years-old, to his room. The man offered him some wine.
“He stood up and grabbed me. He started to kiss me and I never was kissed like that before. We fell to the bed and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to get away. Just then, the bell rang. I had to be back to my room for the nightly bed call. He let me go and told me not to say anything about it,” Jaramillo testified.
“It was the worst experience of my life,” Jaramillo said.
“To this day, I can’t get that event out of my head,” Jaramillo told Native News Online in an interview. “I think about it every day of my life.”
Since July 2022, Haaland and Newland made stops in Anadako, Oklahome; Pellston, Michigan; Rosebud, South Dakota; Gila River Indian Community, Arizona; Many Farms, Arizona; Tulalip Indian Reservation, near Seattle, Washington; Onamia, Minnesota; Riverside and Rohnert Park, California; and Anchorage, Alaska.
The final Road to Healing tour listening session will take place in Bozeman, Montana next Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
More Stories Like ThisNative News Reporter Selected for Oxford Climate Reporting Fellowship
'This has Been a Train Wreck for a Long Time' | Fentanyl Trafficking, Underfunded Tribal Enforcement Subject of Senate Committee Hearing
National Park Service to Do Theme Study on Indian Reorganization Period
President Biden's Remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Summit
Judge Shanlyn Park Confirmed to U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai'i in Historic Appointment
Together, we can educate, enlighten, and empower.November is celebrated as “Native American Heritage Month.” At Native News Online, we amplify Native voices and share our relatives’ unique perspectives every day of the year. We believe every month should celebrate Native American heritage.
If you appreciate our commitment to Native voices and our mission to tell stories that connect us to our roots and inspire understanding and respect, we hope you will consider making a donation this month to support our work. For those who commit to a recurring donation of $12 per month or more, or make a one-time donation of $150 or greater, we're excited to offer you a copy of our upcoming Indian Boarding School publication and access to our quarterly Founder’s Circle meetings and newsletter.