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Uncovering The ‘Unspoken Traumas’ Of Native American Boarding Schools

Solar lights and flags now mark the spots where 751 human remains were recently discovered in unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
Solar lights and flags now mark the spots where 751 human remains were recently discovered in unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.

For generations, indigenous children in the United States and Canada were forcibly sent to boarding schools to assimilate. Exactly what happened at those schools is still being uncovered.

Last week, theCowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan found 751 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school, just one month after more than 200 unmarked graves were found at another school in British Columbia.

Speaking at the virtual conference of the National Congress of American Indians last week, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, announced the department would open its own investigation of these boarding schools.

“I come from ancestors who endured the horrors of Indian boarding school assimilation policies carried out by the same department that I now lead,” Sec. Haaland said.“To address the intergenerational impact of Indian boarding schools and to promote spiritual and emotional healing in our communities, we must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be.”

What do we know about what happened at these schools? And what will this investigation mean for the indigenous communities directly impacted?

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