FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A federal study of Native American boarding schools that sought to assimilate Indigenous children into white society has identified more than 500 student deaths at the institutions.
Officials say that figure could grow exponentially as research continues.
"The consequences of federal Indian boarding school policies—including the intergenerational trauma caused by the family separation and cultural eradication inflicted upon generations of children as young as 4 years old—are heartbreaking and undeniable,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
The investigation found that from 1819 to 1969, the federal Indian boarding school system consisted of 408 federal schools across 37 states or then territories, including 21 schools in Alaska and 7 schools in Hawaii.
Between 1819 and 1969, the Interior Department says there were more than 400 federal boarding schools across 37 states and territories.
The report notes that there were "marked or unmarked burial sites" at more than 50 of the schools.
“This report presents the opportunity for us to reorient federal policies to support the revitalization of Tribal languages and cultural practices to counteract nearly two centuries of federal policies aimed at their destruction,” said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland.