May 11, 2022 REUTERS
May 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. government investigation into the dark history
of Native American boarding schools has found "marked or unmarked
burial sites" at 53 of them, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on
Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Researchers examined government records and spoke to Native Americans to prepare the report. The results detail a history dating to at least 1801, when the first such schools opened, and one in which education was used as a weapon.
Native American affairs, including education, were a War Department responsibility until 1849 and the military remained involved even after civilians took over, the report noted.
The schools were described as resembling military academies in their regimentation and strictness and emphasizing vocational skills. Police were called on to force families to send their children to the schools. Food was denied to families as another way to force them to surrender their children.
"These conditions included militarized and identity alteration methodologies - on kids!" said Bryan Newland, the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs at the Interior Department, who heads the investigation.
Conditions at former Indian boarding schools gained global attention last year when tribal leaders in Canada announced the discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the site of the former Kamloops residential school for indigenous children, as such institutions are known in Canada.
Unlike the United States, Canada carried out a full investigation into its schools via a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The U.S. government has never acknowledged how many children attended such schools, how many children died or went missing from them or even how many schools existed.
The report released on Wednesday included recommendations for funding programs to preserve the Native American languages the schools tried to stamp out, and establishing a federal memorial.