Sec Of Interior Hears More Stories Of Native American Board School Abuse


      Victims of abusive, government-backed Native American boarding schools are sharing their experiences with Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who is on a yearlong tour to confront the troubled history of the institutions.

      Saturday, she was in South Dakota in Mission on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation as tribal members recalled being sent off to schools where the use of their native language and customs would bring swift and sometimes severe punishments. 

      The stated goal of the schools was to “civilize” Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, but that was often carried out through abusive practices.

      Haaland, a New Mexico native and member of the Pueblo of Laguna tribe, told the audience members in Mission that she was a descendent of “boarding school survivors” herself.

       She said “Federal Indian Boarding School policies have touched every indigenous person I know. Some are survivors, some are descendants, but we all carry the trauma from that era in our hearts.” 

       South Dakota State Senator Troy Heinert of Mission called it “a truly historic day to have Secretary Haaland in our homelands.” 

       Heinert encouraged the rest of the Legislature and all future Administrations to attend one of Haaland’s hearings if possible, adding that “these atrocities to children happened right here in South Dakota, and not that long ago.”