NABS Joins the US Interior Department in Releasing the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Report-Vol. 1
May 11, 2022 - The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) joins the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) with the historic release of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Report. The investigation leading to this report was introduced by Interior Secretary Debra Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) in June 2021.
“This is a historic moment as it reaffirms the stories, we all grew up with, the truth of our people, and the often-immense torture our elders and ancestors went through as children at the hands of the federal government and the religious institutions. The impacts of boarding schools are still with us today,” states Deborah Parker, NABS CEO (Tulalip).
NABS has worked collaboratively with the Interior for many months in the development of this report. With that, we are eager to continue our collaboration with Interior as this work is urgent and must advance.
May 11, 2022 Press Conference at the Department of the Interior
Key Findings of the Report
- 408 Federally funded/supported Indian Boarding Schools
- 89 Indian Boarding School Institutions not federally funded/supported
- 497 total Indian boarding school institutions
- Over 500 confirmed student deaths across 19 institutions
- 1000+ other Federal and non-Federal institutions were identified (including day schools, sanitariums, asylums, orphanages, and stand-alone dormitories that involved education of Native people.
- The Federal Indian boarding school system deployed militarized and identity-alteration methodologies to assimilate American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people—primarily children—through education
- The Federal Indian boarding school system predominately utilized manual labor of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children to compensate for the poor conditions of school facilities and lack of financial support from the Federal Government.
- The Federal Indian boarding school system discouraged or prevented the use of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian languages or cultural or religious practices through punishment, including corporal punishment.
- Tribal preferences for the possible disinterment or repatriation of remains of children discovered in marked or unmarked burial sites across the Federal Indian boarding school system vary widely.
- The Federal Government has not provided a forum or opportunity for survivors or descendants of survivors of Federal Indian boarding schools, or their families, to voluntarily detail their experiences in the Federal Indian boarding school system.
The report is the first volume of a truth initiative that intends to continue investigating the scope and impacts of the Federal Indian boarding school policies. It concludes that:
- The United States’ creation of the Federal Indian boarding school system was part of a broader policy aimed at acquiring collective territories from Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, and the Native Hawaiian Community and lands from individuals therein
- Assimilation of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people eventually became an objective of Federal policy in and of itself.
- The intentional targeting and removal of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children to achieve the goal of forced assimilation of Indian people was both traumatic and violent.
- The Federal Indian boarding school system directly disrupted Indian families, Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Villages, and the Native Hawaiian Community for nearly two centuries.
- Further review is required to determine the reach and impact of the violence and trauma inflicted on Indian children through the Federal Indian boarding school system.