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Your questions about Indian Boarding Schools, as answered by our team. 

My concern is those children that have no one still alive that the DNA can be connected to. Since the military will not release the children unless the family can come and get them. Where are these children going? There needs to be a place for them to go. This hurts my heart so badly. My example is that I am the last of my family and there will be no one left to identify anyone else to if there were any other family members from the past.

A similar concern is shared by Native community members, though not about DNA connection, but rather lineage. Currently, the US Army’s written policy in order to authorize repatriations of a Native student buried at Carlisle requires a signed affidavit from a lineal descendant, not DNA proof. Most tribes don’t believe in DNA analysis on their ancestors, due to its destructive nature and imperfect results.

However, the Army told Native News Online in September that it will consider traditional knowledge to determine a closest living relative. There are also active cases where the Army is working with the tribe to repatriate when a closest living relative cannot be determined.

“The Army recognizes that almost none of the Native children buried at CBPC [Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery] had detailed parent information listed on the school burial records,” spokesperson John Harlow told Native News Online. “The closest living relatives of the deceased may only be distantly related. We understand that Native American Traditional Knowledge may likely be the basis to determine who is the closest living relative.”

Read previous Q&As on Indian Boarding Schools

Readers Ask Us 1, June 7th 

Readers Ask Us 2, June 10

Readers Ask Us 3, July 21

Readers Ask Us 4, August 1

Readers Ask Us 5, August 5

Readers Ask Us 6, November 2

If you have a question about Indian Boarding Schools, please submit them to [email protected] or use the online form that can be found at the bottom of stories such as this one. Want to help us shine a light on the dark era of Indian Boarding Schools and their continued impact on Native families and communities today? Become a recurring donor for $5 or $10 a month, or make a one-time donation.  

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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
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the publication's lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.