Department of the Interior reports forced assimilation of Native American children

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 3:36 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Department of the Interior says 408 boarding schools tried to force assimilation of Native American children. The department released a long-awaited report Wednesday.

It outlines efforts the United States took from 1819 to 1969, where hundreds of federal schools forced assimilation. Most of the schools were in Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Mexico.

According to the report, children were separated from their families and stripped of their languages and culture. Rules were often enforced through punishment, including solitary confinement, flogging, withholding of food, and whipping.

The initial analysis found that more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children died in 19 schools.

As the investigation continues, the number of deaths is expected to rise. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says she wants to address these atrocities so indigenous people can continue to heal.

Haaland said, “We must work to preserve Native languages. We must invest in support services for Indian people, and we must bear witness to the stories of American Indian and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian people.”

She went on to say, “I come from ancestors who endured the horrors of the Indian Board School Assimilation Policies, carried out by the same department that I now lead.”

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