Haaland Announces Impact Assessment Program for Native American Boarding Schools

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Minister of the Interior Deb HaalandDeb Haaland Senate confirms Biden selection for No. 2 position at Interior Sanders rejects Biden Insider candidate in procedural vote Democrat urges Haaland on oil and gas review | EPA also delays Trump’s lead and copper in drinking water regulation MORE, the first Native American cabinet secretary, announced Tuesday an initiative that will review the legacy of federal boarding schools that have seen large numbers of native children attend.

Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative in a mid-2021 speech by the National Congress of American Indians. The program, run under Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, will assess the impact of schools across generations.

The agency chief separately hired the Ministry of the Interior to prepare a report on the results of the initiative, including records of cemeteries or other possible burial sites associated with federal boarding schools. A mass grave was discovered last month at the site of one such facility in Canada, believed to contain the remains of more than 200 children.

“The Ministry of the Interior will look at the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools to shed light on the unspoken trauma of the past, no matter how severe it is,” Haaland said on Tuesday. “I know this process will be long and difficult. I know this process will be painful. It won’t undo the heartache and loss we feel. But only if we acknowledge the past can we work towards a future we are all proud of. “

“The stories of the survivors and their families are important and it will be necessary for them to tell and document their stories,” Newland added in his own remarks at the conference.

Federal boarding schools were established to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into white culture, including forcing them to cut their hair, speak only English, and abandon their cultural traditions. The slogan “Kill the Indian, save the man” was coined by Richard Henry Pratt, founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania.

In a comment earlier this month for the Washington Post, Haaland described her own family’s story with such schools, including her grandfather, a survivor of the Carlisle School. “We have a long healing road ahead of us, but I am sure we can work together with tribal nations for a future we will all be proud of,” she wrote.



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