When it comes to Indian Boarding School Graves, Tribal Spiritual Law is Shunned as Repatriations Continue to Fail Some Tribes

In 1879, Carlisle Barracks became the site of the nation’s first government-run Indian boarding school. It was operated by the Department of the Interior until 1918. Under the motto of “kill the Indian, save the man,” it tried to forcibly assimilate 7,800 Native American children from more than 140 tribal nations through a mix of Western-style education and hard labor. At least 186 children died there, of disease often made worse by poor living conditions and abuse.

Federal Indian Boarding School System Intentionally Sought to Destroy Native Families

“There’s not a single American Indian, Alaskan Native, or Native Hawaiian in this country whose life hasn’t been affected by these schools,” Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said during the press conference about the investigation and report last week.“That impact continues to influence the lives of countless families, from the breakup of families and tribal nations, to the loss of languages and cultural practices and relatives. We haven’t begun to explain the scope of this policy until now.” 

‘We’re still here’: past and present collide at a Native American boarding school

The report found that, from 1819 to 1969, there were 408 boarding schools running in every corner of the country. The federal government continues to operate four off-reservation boarding schools for Native American children through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), but in 2019, the BIE’s deputy assistant secretary Mark Cruz said the schools were “no longer in the business of assimilation” and “their purpose was transformed to support and respect tribal self-determination and sovereignty”.

Cruelty of Canada’s residential schools ‘unimaginable’, governor general says

The federal government says it has already released nearly C$80m (US$62m) in funding to nations conducting their own investigations into unmarked graves, including a painstaking search on the grounds of the Mohawk Institute.
In her remarks, Simon acknowledged the discoveries over the last year were a reality long suspected by Indigenous communities whose loved ones never returned home .
“We mourn with you. We stand with you,” she said. “We believe you.”