US Interior Department Begins Documenting Dark History of Indian Boarding Schools

By Democracy Now

HAVANA TIMES – A new report by the Interior Department has documented the deaths of 500 Indigenous children at Indian boarding schools run or supported by the federal government in the United States, but the actual death toll is believed to be far higher. The report also located 53 burial sites at former schools. The report marks the first time the agency has documented some of the dark history at the schools, known for their brutal assimilation practices, forcing students to change their clothing, language and culture. The report was ordered by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and whose grandparents were forced to attend boarding school at the age of 8. Haaland spoke on Wednesday.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland: “I come from ancestors who endured the horrors of the Indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead. This department was responsible for operating what we now know to be 408 federal boarding schools across 37 states or then-territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and seven schools in Hawaii. Now we are uniquely positioned to assist in the effort to recover the dark history of these institutions that have haunted our families for too long.”

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One thought on “US Interior Department Begins Documenting Dark History of Indian Boarding Schools

  • The issue of residential boarding schools resonates loudly in Canada, like in the United States, even today. The Canadian government in its early history initiated a federal government policy that in effect was to eliminate their Aboriginal culture, language and customs. This was to be done through aggressive assimilation. The results of this aggressive, abusive, deplorable assimilation is well documented. In fact the whole Aboriginal issue in Canada has been labeled a genocide by the current Liberal government.

    In Canada on a yearly basis there is a contest to choose the book that all Canadians need to read. It is judged by a host of renown panelists from all walks of life who have five (5) books to read, debate, and then choose the one that bests represents Canada or resonates widely with Canadians in the year of the completion.

    This year, 2022, the book “Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good was selected. The book discusses the lives of five Aboriginal children taken (an understatement as the reader will see) from their parents and shipped to residential boarding schools strewn across Canada and operated by the Catholic and Anglican churches. In one case of many, the Indian parents refused to hand over their 6 year old child to the Canadian authorities represented by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

    The parents were emphatically told that they would be put in jail if they refused to submit their sibling to the Police. The Police had to use force to take the innocent, screaming, kicking, crying child from the house and hustled into the Police cruiser while the parents in utter grief, panic, also screaming and yelling at the injustice taking place. But to no avail, assimilation was a priority .

    This practice extrapolated across the country was the way the federal government at the time felt it could assimilate the entire Aboriginal population into Canadian society. It is now with recent technology that authorities are finding mass graves around these former residential boarding schools. In one case, in Michelle’s book a young child was coughing up blood. It was an obvious case whereby the child needed immediate medical care.

    But no. The religious authorities blinded by their mandated goal sent the child out to a barn on the property in freezing temperatures to sweep the stables. The child collapsed was rushed back into the residential school where he died. In the book no one knows what happened to the body. Sad.

    Furthermore, other atrocities and humiliations took place. A young child perhaps through severe stress, illness, urinated in his bed while sleeping. In the morning, a religious authority wrapped the soiled sheet around his head and paraded him and humiliated him in front of his peers. Absolutely disgusting but that is just another example of what these innocent children had to undergo in the hands of religious – Brothers and Sisters – superiors who believed they were doing God’s work and certainly fulfilling their federal government mandate.

    When these young children after many years of violent, abusive indoctrination reached their teenage years they were given a small suitcase and bus money and some pocket change to now fend for themselves in towns and cities across Canada. With no survivor skills many had no choice but to turn to illegal and criminal activity in order to live day to day. To this very day the Canadian prison system is overly represented by Aboriginal youth bearing the scars of what they and their parents and grandparents had to endure in these residential boarding schools.

    Certainly a black mark in Canadian and United States history. The Pope – Pope Francis – is suppose to come to Canada in July 2022 to offer an official apology to Aboriginals. Don’t know, but are apologies appropriate for crimes against humanity?

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