Haaland, Dept. of Interior, launch review of ‘troubled legacy’ of U.S. Indian boarding schools

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced this week she has ordered a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding schools, which operated for much of the 19th and 20th centuries with the primary goal of assimilating Indian children into European culture.

Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and the first Native American person to hold a cabinet level position. She has directed her staff to research historical boarding school records, with an emphasis on cemeteries or potential burial sites, and publish a report, according to a Department media release.

The Twin Cities-based Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) applauded the news.

“NABS believes this investigation will provide critical resources to address the ongoing historical trauma of Indian boarding schools,” the organization said in a media release. “Our organization has been pursuing truth, justice, and healing for boarding school survivors, descendants, and tribal communities.”

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This Day in History: First Carlisle Boarding School Students Arrive

On this day in history, at midnight of October 6, 1879, Richard Pratt arrived by train in Carlisle, Pennsylvania with the first 82 children to be enrolled in his Carlisle Indian Industrial School. These children were from the Rosebud and Pine Ridge reservations in South Dakota.

The Carlisle School has become synonymous with this country’s tragic legacy of boarding school policy. Built out of a former prison barracks, Carlisle was the first federally-funding Indian boarding school. According to Wikipedia:

Carlisle became the model for 26 Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding schools in 15 states and territories, and hundreds of private boarding schools sponsored by religious denominations. … From 1879 until 1918, over 10,000 Native American children from 140 tribes attended Carlisle; however, only 158 students graduated.

Carlisle pupils, courtesy Wikipedia
Carlisle pupils, courtesy Wikipedia

Carlisle was all about assimilation through American education. Pratt is infamous for his quote: “Kill the Indian: Save the Man.”

Carlisle opened on November 1, 1879 with 147 students: eighty-four Lakota, fifty-two Cheyenne, Kiowa and Pawnee, and eleven Apache. They ranged in age from 6 to 25, but most were teenagers. When they got to school, their hair was cut, they were given American names, and they were forced to give up there language and culture.

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Money, race, politics tangle White Earth preservation project

Minnesota Public Radio has reported on how the Minnesota legislature blocked the White Earth Reservation from getting Legacy Funds to buy and preserve 2,000 acres of forest and wetlands. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council had recommended the $2 million project. According to MPR:

A House committee stripped the project from the bill. Rep. Steve Green, R-Fosston, sponsor of the amendment to remove the project, said the land sale would hurt Clearwater County by taking land off the property tax rolls.

White Earth tribal leaders are going to make another effort to secure the money, focusing on the plan’s merits. They don’t believe the plan was rejected because of the lost property taxes, but to keep tribes from owning land.

Race is the “elephant in the room,” said White Earth Land Acquisition manager Lorena Vogt.

The land has an annual property tax of about $15,000. Vogt, though, points out many other projects that were approved won’t pay property taxes.

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