Albuquerque, New Mexico (AP) —They sat in a dust-covered box that had been hidden untouched for years. Coastal parish and literary fans.
The first showed a girl bundled in a blanket with moccasins on her legs. The next one, taken just a few weeks later, was quite different. The children were posing in plaid uniforms, high lace boots, and wide-brimmed straw hats.
Adjunct professor Larry Larichio came across an 1885 photo while investigating a military outpost and said, “It brought tears to my eyes.”
These images represent a systematic attempt by the US government, religious groups, and other groups to take indigenous youth out of their homes and send them to boarding schools to assimilate them into white society. This effort has been underway for over a century, as the U.S. government is now trying to uncover a problematic legacy of U.S. policy related to Native American boarding schools that have been reported to have been physically and sexually abused. , Has become the focus of large-scale efforts. It is widespread.
Larrichio, a researcher at the University of New Mexico’s Latin American and Iberian Institutes, said: “It just knocked on my ass.”
The US Home Office has begun examining records in hopes of identifying past boarding schools and student names and tribes. The project also seeks to determine the number of children who died while attending those schools and were buried in unmarked graves.
The dismantled bodies of nine Native American children who died more than a century ago while attending a government-run school in Pennsylvania as part of an effort that began a few years ago were relatives at a ceremony on Wednesday. Handed over to Rosebud. Land of the Sue tribe in South Dakota.
Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, a member of Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American to lead the Cabinet, promised a comprehensive review, acknowledging that it was a painful and difficult process.
Larrichio’s discovery suggests the vastness of the challenge, as each bit of new information guides another path that needs to be investigated.
Some records are kept by government agencies and the National Archives, but most are from university archives, such as those found by Larrichio, to government offices, church archives, museums, and personal collections throughout the jurisdiction. Scattered in.
It goes without saying that it has been lost or destroyed over the years.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition has been working to gather information about schools for almost a decade. A Minnesota-based group, with grants and the cooperation of independent researchers across the country, identified nearly 370 schools, with hundreds of thousands of Native American children passing through schools between the 1869 and 1960s. I presume.
Christine Diindiisi McCleave, Group CEO and Citizen of Turtle Mountain, said: Ojibwe Nation.
The coalition knows directly how difficult it is to reveal the truth. A few years ago, the group submitted a request for public records to the federal government for information about the school. The government didn’t have an answer, Diindiisi McCleave said.
Of the schools identified by the group so far, only 40% of them have records, she said. The rest of the whereabouts are unknown.
What we know from surveys and family stories is that there were children who had never returned home.
Diindiisi McCleave and others were created in Canada, where the bodies of more than 1,000 children remain, as the Home Office took the first formal step to reveal more about history. Similarly, they are updating their push to establish a federal commission in the United States and have been found in housing schools there in recent weeks.
In the United States, the Indian Civilization Act of 1819 and other laws and policies were enacted, and Indian boarding schools across the country were established and supported. For over 150 years, indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into boarding schools focused on assimilation.
The discovery in Canada and the new spotlight in the United States have aroused strong emotions among the tribal community, including sadness, anger, remorse, and a deep desire for healing.
Haaland, Diindiisi McCleave, and Lynn Trujillo of the New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary all tell the story of their grandparents being sent to a boarding school. They talk about intergenerational trauma caused by the experiences and influences that have emerged in the younger generation trying to maintain the language and cultural practices that were banned in boarding schools.
For some families, the boarding school experience was a forbidden topic and was never talked about.
For others, recent attention has spurred fresh conversations. Trujillo talked about how his grandmother was taken at the age of six and was always hungry and cold.
Trujillo said that while her grandmother went home, unlike other children, that experience shaped who she was.
“Our community and indigenous peoples have known about these atrocities for a very long time, but being able to reveal them and talk about them is the process towards healing, no matter how painful it may be. “It’s part of Sandia Pueblo, who has focused on bringing together indigenous youth to emphasize the need for more mental health resources and educational opportunities.
For Diindiisi McCleave, more research, data, and understanding are needed to advance healing.
“Most of the work begins with the truth, which in this case hears the truth not only from the federal government and the church that runs the school, but also from the perspective of those who have experienced it, of the survivors and descendants. Understand the testimony and the full extent and impact of these experiences, “she said.
Experts say the list of known boarding schools and burial sites only grows as grassroots research sheds light on schools that have been lost in history.
Already, some researchers have spent years stitching together records, old newspaper reports, and dictation history to find and identify lost children. Some people have searched for properties using ground penetrating radar. Several state agencies focusing on indigenous issues are considering initiating a survey of known schools.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said it is working on ways to “create a safe space,” such as hotlines and special websites where people can share information about schools and find resources.
In New Mexico, the Ramona Technical School for Indian Girls opened in the mid-1880s, accommodating most Apache students. Many had parents who were taken prisoner by the US military at Fort Union, about 100 miles (160 km) away.
Not far from Santa Fe’s historic square, the school was founded by Horatio Lad, a Congregational minister who contracted with the military to send indigenous students there. This effort was supported by writer and activist Helen Hunt Jackson parishioners and worshipers through fundraising newsletters and postcards.
Larrichio was working on a national park services project a few years ago when he happened to find pamphlets and other documents related to the school. It was a month-long effort, including exploring hundreds of archive collections at the University of New Mexico’s Southwestern Research Center.
With just a short reference to a book on other subjects, the school is an example of the difficult task the Home Office faces when it undertakes an investigation. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Larrichio said while sharing the material he found with the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, and more work needs to be done.
“Much of this information is probably buried — literally buried about this collection I discovered,” he said. “How many other stories were buried and how much was intentionally destroyed? I think it’s very difficult to comprehensively understand the effects of this.”
Uncovering the history of boarding schools can be a tremendous task –
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