More than 500 Native American children have died in US government-run boarding schools where students were physically abused and denied food, according to an Interior Department report released Wednesday.
The graves, both identified and anonymous, were discovered at some 53 boarding schools that housed children separated from their families for assimilation purposes between 1819 and 1969, according to the report on the “federal Indian boarding school system.”
About 19 establishments “account for more than 500 remains of Amerindians, Alaska Natives and Hawaiians,” says the report, which emphasizes that the authorities “expect that the number of identified graves will increase” as the investigation progresses.
The location of the burials has not been disclosed in order to prevent “grave looting, vandalism and other disturbances of indigenous burial sites,” the authors said.
This report is the first part of a major investigation launched by the Ministry of the Interior, following the discovery in 2021 of more than a thousand anonymous graves of native indigenous children in the facilities of former boarding schools.
Between 1819 and 1969, the “federal Indian boarding school system” counted 408 schools located in 37 states and US territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and seven in Hawaii, according to the report requested by the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, also amerindian
“The consequences of the ‘federal Indian boarding system’ policies – including the intergenerational trauma caused by family separation and the cultural eradication inflicted on generations of children as young as 4 years old – are undeniable and heartbreaking,” he said. Haaland in a statement.
The federal program “deployed systematic militarized methods of identity alteration to try to assimilate through education” children from native communities, particularly by giving them an Anglophone name or cutting their hair.
Deborah Parker of the National Coalition for the Healing of Native Americans placed in these centers highlighted the devastating long-term consequences of these schools.
“After generations, we still don’t know how many children were there. How many children died, how many children were scarred for life by these federal institutions,” Parker told a news conference.
These centers discouraged or prevented children from speaking their language and concentrated on teaching technical skills or manual labor “with job prospects often unrelated to the state of the American industrial economy, further disrupting tribal economies.” “, according to the report.
Corporal punishment was often the rule in these establishments, as well as isolation and deprivation of food, flogging, beatings and shackles, according to the report.
He adds that the older children were forced to punish the younger ones.
The indigenous affairs office seeks to continue the investigation to determine the total number of children who were part of these schools and the total number of burials in the country and identify the children who lie there.
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