fbpx
 

The Department of the Interior on Tuesday said it was bolstering its Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative by partnering with the group that’s been at the same goal for nearly ten years: the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS).

The two groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining each of their expected responsibilities.

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

In June, Secretary Haaland announced the Federal Boarding School Initiative, directing her department to identify boarding school facilities and examine potential burial sites near the schools, as well as the identities and tribal affiliations of the students who were taken to the schools. The initiative was prompted by the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada, according to the Interior Department. 

The initiative will amount to a report, prepared by Assistant Secretary Bryan Newland, by April 1, 2022.

Though the Department has mentioned collaborating with relevant organizations all along, the announcement on Tuesday marks their first official working relationship.

In the signed memorandum of understanding, NABS CEO Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Citizen of the Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Nation) agreed to exclusively license the Department to use their historical research “without restriction” (for example, NABS is the only organization with a count on how many Indian Boarding Schools were and continue to be in operation).

“The survivors, descendants, and relatives of those who experienced these schools deserve the truth. NABS has agreed to share a decade’s worth of independent research because the United States has finally agreed to start revealing the truth abo{ut this part of American history,” McCleave said in a statement.

On the Department of Interior’s part, Newland agreed to credit NABS in the final report to the Secretary, and to “work with NABS to ensure that the records and information NABS may provide… are compatible and can be adequately and efficiently integrated with the records and information prepared by the Department.”

In a statement, McCleave said her organization looks forward to working with the Department of the Interior to finally get information to the survivors, descendants, and relatives who experienced the boarding schools.

The scope of authority of the Department of the Interior is limited, NABS noted in their own press release, petitioning for the passage of legislation that would empower a Truth and Healing Commission to investigate all federal agencies, churches that operated schools, and private enterprises that benefitted from child labor. 

The Department is still in phase one of the initiative, which includes identifying and collecting records formerly kept by the same department on the schools, and consulting with tribal nations, Alaska Native corporations and Native Hawaiian organizations on their own known burial sites.




More Stories Like This

California Tribal Families Coalition Establishes “The California ICWA Institute” Think Tank
BIA Announces “Historic” Land Acquisition in Alaska
Slow Repatriation Efforts Plague UC Berkeley
Cherokee Nation Fights for Delegate in Congress
Indian Boarding Schools: Readers Ask Us #7

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected]