According to a groundbreaking federal investigation into the assimilation of Native American children into white society that has been going on for over a century, more than 500 students have died at these boarding schools. However, officials expect that number to grow exponentially as more research is being done.
Understanding the past: It has been felt so strongly throughout Indian Country and through years of boarding schools where Native American children were forced to be separated from their families, forbidden from speaking their native languages, and frequently beaten. The number of confirmed student fatalities might rise into the hundreds or possibly tens of thousands, according to the Interior Department, with more study. Disease, unintentional injury, and maltreatment were among the causes.
As Interior Secretary Deb Haaland put it, “each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system.”
What the studies shows: According to a report issued by the Interior Department on Wednesday, the number of schools built or financed by the United States government has risen to more than 400, dating back to the early nineteenth century and extending into the late 1960s in certain instances. In documents from roughly 20 schools, the agency discovered the deaths of the students.
The Interior Department recognized that the number of schools listed might alter as further information is obtained. Newland, a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community, noted that the coronavirus pandemic and funding constraints had hampered some of the research in the last year.
A few of the boarding schools were owned and operated by the United States government itself. Native Americans were “civilized” via the efforts of Catholic, Protestant, and other religious organizations funded by the federal government and supported by U.S. laws and regulations. Some 180 Native American schools are still under federal control, although their purposes have changed dramatically since the 1970s.
Discoveries at old Canadian residential school sites of hundreds of unmarked graves that brought back terrible memories for Indigenous people spurred the Interior Department study.
Former boarding school students from Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages, and Native Hawaiian communities may contribute their stories as part of a permanent oral history collection as part of a year-long tour launched by Haaland on Wednesday.
The circumstances in boarding and residential schools throughout the United States and Canada were vastly different from one another. Military-style discipline was common at the institutions, despite the fact that some ex-students had great experiences.
The boarding school group, which compiled an early inventory of the institutions and shared its findings with the Interior Department, lauded Interior’s efforts but emphasized that the agency’s breadth is restricted. About 90 additional boarding schools have been identified by the consortium as not meeting the federal government’s standards.
Hearings will be held Thursday on a plan to establish a Canadian-style truth and healing commission in the US House of Representatives. Parker emphasized the significance of this information in shedding light on the plight of Native children.