Two issues were on the table during the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs’ hearing June 22: the Department of the Interior’s landmark investigative report on Indian Boarding Schools, and legislation intended to work in tandem with the department’s initiative to address trauma and bring healing to boarding-school survivors and their communities.
The 106-page report—released last month and penned by Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland—details for the first time the extent of the boarding-school network: The federal government operated or supported 408 schools in 37 states, including Alaska and Hawai’i, between 1819 and 1969. It found that at least 500 children died while at those schools. Newland said he expects the investigation to find that the total death toll was in the “thousands or tens of thousands.”
The report concluded that further investigation, supported by a $7 million appropriation President Joseph Biden has requested from Congress, will be necessary to identify how many children lost their lives, find their names and tribal affiliations, and estimate how much the government spent supporting the boarding-school system.
In response to the report’s findings, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland last month announced “The Road to Healing,” a year-long tour to hear directly from boarding-school survivors in listening sessions throughout the country.
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