US finds 500 Native American boarding school deaths so far

The dark history of the boarding schools has been felt deeply across Indian Country and through generations.

By

National News

May 11, 2022 - 4:52 PM

An area for visitors to share their reactions with writing or drawings, at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art for the new exhibition, "Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories" an exhibition that tells the stories of federally operated boarding schools aimed to eradicate Native American cultures through forced assimilation of children, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 in St. Petersburg.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A first-of-its-kind federal study of Native American boarding schools that for over a century sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 500 student deaths at the institutions so far, but officials say that figure could grow exponentially as research continues.

The Interior Department report released Wednesday expands to more than 400 the number of schools that were known to have operated across the U.S. for 150 years, starting in the early 19th century and coinciding with the removal of many tribes from their ancestral lands. It identified the deaths in records for about 20 of them.

The dark history of the boarding schools — where children were forced from their families, prohibited from speaking their Native American languages and often abused — has been felt deeply across Indian Country and through generations.

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