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Burial sites found at 53 Native American boarding schools

The Teller Institute was one of more than 350 federally run boarding schools in the U.S. to assimilate Native American children.

The Teller Institute was one of more than 350 federally run boarding schools in the U.S. to assimilate Native American children.

Following on from an article I published on this website, Cultural Genocide, relating to the deadly cost to indigenous populations of colonial growth in Canada, it appears that their close neighbours across the border in the United States are themselves no moral upland, with the discovery of “marked or unmarked burial sites” containing the remains of at least 500 Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children at some 50 gravesites with more gravesites likely be found at more than 400 former government sponsored Native American boarding schools which operated between 1819 and 1969.

 

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a former congresswoman from New Mexico and the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, introduced legislation in 2020 calling for a Truth and Healing Commission into conditions at former federal Indian boarding schools. That legislation is still pending. Deb Haaland’s grandparents were both forced to attend such a boarding school, and she said at a recent press conference. “Many children like them never made it back to their homes. Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose on this Earth because they lost their lives as part of this terrible system,”.

 

Whereas Canada carried out a full investigation into its schools via a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the United States appeared to be dragging its feet over the same possibilities of revelations about these establishments. Finally, the “Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report” was released by the United States Department of Interior was released this Wednesday.

 

For over 150 years, Native American children in the United States were forcibly removed from their tribes and sent to such schools in an effort at forced assimilation, suppression of their own cultures and forbidden from speaking their native languages. The provision of care was grossly inadequate with well-documented instances of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, disease, malnourishment, overcrowding; and lack of health care. Manual labour was also a common feature — in 1903 at the Mescalero Boarding School in New Mexico, Mescalero Apache boys sawed over 70,000 feet of lumber and made upward of 120,000 bricks. Many children tried to escape but were found, brought back and punished. The deaths of Indian children while under the care of the United States Government, or associated institutions, led to the breakup of Indian families and the erosion of Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and the Native Hawaiian Community.

 

The latest report is the first time that the United States government has attempted to research the degrees to which it inflicted such treatment on Native American children for decades but it still does not show how the children died or who was responsible. An accompanying news release acknowledged the maltreatment of Indigenous children during the period of the school’s existence, but stop short of offering an apology from the United States government, which Native American tribal leaders have been demanding for many years. Conversely, Pope Francis apologised for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s boarding school system, and First Nation leaders are now asking him to apologise in person when he visits the United States this summer.

 

The number of recorded deaths amongst displaced Native American children is expected to increase, with the numbers declared so far significantly less than some estimates, which are in the tens of thousands.

 

It wasn’t just a cultural genocide, it was ethnic cleansing, removing generations of Native Americans from their homelands, permanently, so satisfy the land greed of an invading race. If this was in any other part of the world, it would be condemned universally, but in today’s USA, it is just a footnote to be ignored by the majority.

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