The Secretary of the Interior has launched an investigation into the US’s efforts to wipe out the identity and culture of Native American tribes for over 150 years.
The federal government will investigate its past supervision of Native American boarding schools and work to “expose the truth about the loss of life and lasting consequences of these institutions,” which have forced hundreds of thousands of children to leave their homes and communities for decades. US Secretary of the Interior Deb Harland announced on Tuesday.
She said this unprecedented work will include compiling and reviewing decades of records to identify past boarding schools, find known and possible cemeteries in or near these schools, and reveal the names of students and tribal affiliation.
“In order to address the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools and promote the spiritual and emotional healing of our community, no matter how difficult the past, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past,” Harland said.
As a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico and the first Native American to serve as cabinet secretary, Harland outlined this in a speech to members of the National Congress of American Indians during the organization’s mid-year meeting. initiative.
She said that this process will be long, difficult and painful, and will not eliminate the heartbreak and loss suffered by many families.
Beginning with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819, the United States enacted laws and policies to establish and support Indian boarding schools nationwide. For more than 150 years, indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced to enter boarding schools focused on assimilation.
Harland talked about the federal government’s attempts to eliminate tribal identity, language and culture, and how it has continued to manifest in the past through long-term trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, premature death, mental disorders, and drug abuse.
This Recently discovered child remains Buried on the site of what was once Canada’s largest aboriginal boarding school, this has greatly increased the interest of Canada and the United States in this heritage.
In Canada, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children As part of the plan to integrate them into society, they were required to attend state-sponsored Christian schools. They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their language. Many people were beaten and verbally abused, and as many as 6,000 were said to have died.
Reading about Unmarked graves in CanadaIn a recent review article published by the Washington Post, Harland told the story of her own family.
Harland wrote that she was “the product of these terrible assimilation policies” and described how “grandparents were stolen from family members” when she was 8 years old.
She cited statistics from the Native American Boarding School Rehabilitation Alliance, which reported that by 1926, more than 80% of Native school-age children were enrolled in boarding schools run by the federal government or religious organizations. In addition to providing resources and raising awareness, the alliance has also been working to compile more studies on American boarding schools and death tolls, which many people believe are very lacking.
Officials from the Ministry of the Interior said that in addition to trying to learn more about the loss of life in boarding schools, they will also work hard to protect school-related cemeteries and will negotiate with the tribe on how to best do this while respecting the family and community.
As part of this plan, the final report of agency staff will be submitted by April 1, 2022.
In his speech, Harland told the story of her grandmother and other children in her village who were loaded onto a train and then sent to a boarding school. She said that the “dark history” of these institutions has been haunting many families, and the institution has the responsibility to restore this history.
She said: “We must reveal the truth about the loss of human lives and the lasting consequences of these schools.”