A report on American Indian boarding schools revealed the horrendous treatment of indigenous children.


According to a report released by the Department of the Interior on Wednesday, the United States admits to massive and violent treatment of Native American students in more than 400 federally run Indian boarding schools between 1819 and 1969.

According to the report, more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian children have died in 19 federal Indian boarding schools. A total of 53 marked and unmarked burials have been identified nationally at these school facilities. An investigation is ongoing and the department said, “The approximate number of Indian children killed in federal Indian boarding schools is expected to be in the tens or tens of thousands.”

In the early 19th century America, Indigenous children were “chosen” from reserved schools and separated from their families to attend government-approved schools. said.

Boys in uniform at the Albuquerque Indian School, circa 1900.
Young boys in uniform at the Albuquerque Indian School, circa 1900.

National Archives


Indian boarding schools, often located on active or retired military bases, have used what the report calls “systematic militarization and identity change methodology” to separate children from their families and force them to relinquish their mother tongue and culture.

The children had their hair cut and were given English names. They had to follow a strict schedule that included English, obedience, cleanliness, and Christian classes.

According to the report, day-to-day was so tightly structured that “there were very few opportunities to exercise a choice.”

Children who did not follow school standards or broke the rules were subjected to “corporal punishment, such as solitary confinement, whips, food bans, flogging, slaps, and handcuffs.” Older children forced punishment on younger children.

The report detailed “pervasive physical, sexual and emotional abuse, illness, malnutrition, overcrowding and lack of health care.” In some boarding schools, several children were required to sleep in one bed.

The Home Office report identified 408 federally operated schools in 37 states. As for the number of schools, Oklahoma had the most with 76, followed by Arizona with 44, New Mexico with 43, and South Dakota with 30.

The Interior Ministry said it was not disclosing the location of the children’s burial site publicly, “to prevent well-documented robbery, vandalism and other disturbances to the Indian burial site.” However, efforts are being made to inform the tribes of the burial site.

Home Secretary Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland have released the first volume of a 106-page investigation report as part of the 2021 Federal Indian Boarding Schools Initiative.

“The report explains that by placing the federal Indian boarding school system in a historical context, the United States has established this system as part of its broader goal to drive out Indian tribes, Alaskan Native villages, and Native Hawaiian communities from the territory to support expansion. .American,” wrote Newland. “Federal Indian boarding school policy has purposely aimed to assimilate Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children and consequently usurp their territories.”

Young female student sitting on sewing machine in classroom at Phoenix Indian Industrial School.
Undated photo of a teacher and a young schoolgirl sitting with a sewing machine in a classroom at the Phoenix Indian Industrial School.

Walter J. Lubken/US Landfill Phoenix Regional Office


This boarding school was funded by Congress and used housing provided by the federal government. In 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act was passed, which sought to leave Native American children with their families, rather than their families. As of 2019, there were only four boarding schools operated by the Indian Department of Education, and they no longer serve to assimilate students.

Wednesday’s report also notes a history of the Home Office’s slow response to the horrific boarding school situation. Citing the Ministry of Education’s recognition of “progress” in 1897 when “most schools” students provided their respective students with towels, combs, hairbrushes and toothbrushes instead of being forced to share toiletries.

The children received several hours of vocational training each day, including raising livestock and poultry, dairy farming, lumber and carpentry, blacksmithing, developing irrigation systems, cooking and building railroads.

The boarding school also taught non-Indians, including emancipated blacks known as “free men,” and concluded that the federal Indian boarding school system “continues to affect the present health” of former students living today.

“Adult attendees are now more likely to suffer from cancer (3x more), tuberculosis (2x more), high cholesterol (95%), diabetes (81%), anemia (61%), arthritis (60%), gallbladder disease ( 60%).”

In response to these discoveries, Haaland, the first Native American cabinet minister, heard and supported federal boarding school survivors, and published a permanent oral history.

“The consequences of federal Indian boarding schools policy, including the intergenerational trauma of family separation and the cultural extermination of generations of children under four, are heartbreaking and undeniable,” Haaland said in a statement. “We continue to see evidence of these attempts to forcibly assimilate indigenous peoples from the inequalities our communities face. Addressing enduring legacy as well as giving a voice to survivors and descendants of federal Indian boarding school policy is my priority. We are implementing these policies to help Indigenous peoples continue to grow and heal.”

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