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Montevideo, September 27th 2023 - 02:32 UTC



US releases report on fate of Native American children at boarding schools

Wednesday, May 11th 2022 - 20:28 UTC
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Atrocities committed against children of native tribes came under the spotlight with discoveries of burial sites at churches in recent years in Canada Atrocities committed against children of native tribes came under the spotlight with discoveries of burial sites at churches in recent years in Canada

The United States Interior Department Wednesday released a report on what was common practice in 37 states nationwide, where children of native American tribes were separated from their families and sent to 408 boarding schools.

Most of these children never returned. Many of them underwent “rampant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; disease; malnourishment; overcrowding; and lack of health care,” the report found. The document identified 53 burial sites and stressed that more sites could be found soon as work on the matter advances.

“Many of those children were buried in unmarked or poorly maintained burial sites far from their Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages, the Native Hawaiian Community, and families, often hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away,” the report said.

“Federal Indian boarding schools have had a lasting impact on Native people in communities across America,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland explained.

“That impact continues to influence the lives of countless families. From the breakup of families of tribal nations to the loss of languages and cultural practices and relatives, this has left lasting scars for all Indigenous people,” he added.

“There's a lot more work that has to be done to simply tell [Native Americans] the truth and lay out the scope of the federal Indian boarding school system,” he went on.

The next phase of the investigation plans to identify the dead children and bring their remains back to their communities, as well as identify living survivors and descendants of attendees of Indian boarding schools to document their experiences, the report says.

“The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies — including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old — are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.

“I have a great obligation, but I was taught by my mother and my grandfather and my grandmother that when you are asked to do something for your people that you step up,” Haaland said in a broadcast interview earlier this year.

Haaland, who is Laguna, announced an initiative last June to investigate the troubled legacy of boarding schools and uncover the truth about the government's role in them. The 408 schools her agency identified operated in 37 states or territories, many of them in Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Haaland said she would travel across the country to meet with families impacted by the painful legacy of Indigenous boarding schools and give them a platform to share their stories and heal from “intergenerational trauma.”

“We have lived with the intergenerational trauma of federal Indian boarding school policies for many years,” Haaland said. “But what is new is the determination in the Biden-Harris administration to make a lasting difference in the impact of this trauma for future generations.”

A second volume of the report is to be released in the future, the Interior Department said.

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