Report catalogs abuse of Native American children in former public schools

A preliminary investigation commissioned by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland cataloged some of the harsh conditions Native American children endured at the more than 400 boarding schools they were forced to attend by the federal government between 1819 and 1969. The investigation was an initial step, Ms. Haaland said. , towards addressing the “intergenerational trauma” left behind by politics.

An Interior Ministry report released on Wednesday highlighted the abuse of many children in government-run schools, such as beatings, food bans and solitary confinement. It also identified burial sites at more than 50 former schools, a number the department expects to grow as the review continues.

The report is the first step in a comprehensive review that Mrs. Haaland, the first Native American Cabinet SecretaryAnd announced in June After discovering hundreds of unmarked The graves of children who attended similar schools in Canada provoke a national account there.

The preliminary investigation found that “nearly 19 federal Indian boarding schools are responsible for more than 500 deaths among American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children.” The report said that this number is expected to rise.

From 1869 through the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were taken from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools, which were run by the government and churches.

There were 20,000 children in schools by 1900; By 1925, the number had more than tripled, according to the Healing Coalition of the Native American Boarding School.

The Unmarked graves discovered in Canada Last year – 215 inches British Columbia750 in Saskatchewan – Ms. Haaland led to the announcement that her agency would search the grounds of former schools in the United States and identify any remains. Ms. Haaland’s grandparents attended such schools.

“The consequences of the federal Indian boarding school policies – including intergenerational trauma caused by family separation and cultural eradication inflicted on generations of children under the age of 4 – are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Ms Haaland said in a statement. “It is my priority not only to give a voice to the survivors and descendants of the federal Indian boarding school policies, but also to address the enduring legacies of these policies so that Indigenous peoples can continue to grow and heal.”

The 106-page report, by Brian Newland, the agency’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, concluded that more investigations are needed to understand the lasting effects of the boarding school system on American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians. The report said that assimilation was only one of the goals of the regime; The other is “the expropriation of indigenous peoples’ lands through forced removal and resettlement of their children”.

The government has not yet provided a forum or opportunity for survivors, descendants of boarding school survivors, or their families to describe their experiences in schools. In an effort to accommodate Native American children, schools gave them English names, cut their hair and prohibited them from speaking their languages ​​and practicing their religions or cultural traditions.

Ms. Haaland has also announced plans for a year-long cross-country tour called The Road to Healing, during which survivors of the boarding school system can share their stories.

The Canadian government has initiated similar efforts and has allocated approximately C$320 million to communities affected by the boarding school system, burial site searches, and memorials for victims.