ARIZONA NEWS

Funding to support oral histories in boarding school era

Apr 26, 2023, 3:00 PM

FILE - Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at an event to celebrate the designation of the Avi Kw...

FILE - Interior Secretary Deb Haaland speaks at an event to celebrate the designation of the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument on April 14, 2023, in Las Vegas. The Interior Department announced a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, to document the experiences of thousands of Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students at federally funded schools across the country. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

 

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. government is embarking on an effort to record the oral histories of survivors and descendants of boarding schools that sought to “civilize” Indigenous students, often through abusive practices.

The Interior Department announced a partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities on Wednesday to document the experiences of thousands of Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students at federally funded schools across the country.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is contributing $4 million for the project.

“The first step toward addressing the intergenerational consequences of these schools is to squarely acknowledge and examine the history of a federal system intended to separate families, erase Native languages and cultures, and dispossess Native peoples of their land,” National Endowment for the Humanities’ chair Shelly Lowe said in a statement. Lowe is Navajo.

The endowment has supported other efforts, including a permanent exhibit on boarding schools at the Heard Museum in Phoenix and a project to digitize and transcribe records at the Genoa Indian School in Nebraska.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, has prioritized publicly examining the trauma caused by the schools. The department released a first-of-its kind report pointing out 408 schools the federal government supported. Religious and private institutions that ran many of the schools received federal funding and were willing partners in assimilating Indigenous students.

The U.S. enacted laws and policies in 1819 to support the schools, most of which closed long ago. None still exist to strip students of their identities.

Victims and survivors of government-backed boarding schools have been sharing emotional stories during a “Road to Healing” tour organized by the Interior Department. They have recalled being locked in basements as punishment, hair being cut to stamp out their identities, and physical and mental abuse.

The Interior Department found in the first volume of an investigative report on boarding schools that at least 500 children died at some of the schools, though the number is expected to increase dramatically as research continues. A second volume is expected by the end of the year, the agency said.

The tour has made stops in Arizona, the Navajo Nation and, most recently in Washington on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

The oral history collection is an extension of the tour and comes at the request of Indigenous communities, Haaland said. It will ensure that future generations can learn from those stories, she said in a statement. “This is one step, among many, that we will take to strengthen and rebuild the bonds within Native communities that federal Indian boarding school policies set out to break,” Haaland said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Google Street View image of Heritage Village, a Mesa assisted living facility that has been accused...

Kevin Stone

Court puts receiver in control of troubled Mesa assisted living facility

A third-party receiver was appointed to take control of Heritage Village, a Mesa assisted living facility accused of abuse and consumer fraud.

4 minutes ago

Multiple suspects were indicted for their roles in allegedly ambushing an off-duty Phoenix police o...

KTAR.com

Suspects indicted in connection to shooting of off-duty Phoenix officer

Two suspects were indicted for their roles in allegedly ambushing an off-duty Phoenix police officer in March, authorities said Tuesday.

40 minutes ago

File photo of a woman buying a The Pick lottery ticket from a machine. A ticket for The Pick sold i...

Kevin Stone

Arizona lottery player hits $11.9 million jackpot in The Pick drawing

An Arizona lottery player hit an $11.9 million jackpot in Monday’s The Pick drawing. The winning numbers were 2, 8, 28, 31, 32 and 41.

2 hours ago

Follow @KTAR923...

KTAR.com

Crust Simply Italian owners opening The Goose speakeasy lounge in Scottsdale

The lounge is located near Via de Ventura and Hayden Road, adjacent to Crust Simply Italian in the Scottsdale's McCormick Ranch neighborhood.

3 hours ago

Stock image of power lines. A power outage left thousands of residents in the city of Maricopa with...

KTAR.com

Thousands in city of Maricopa get electricity back after widespread power outage

The power has been restored in Maricopa after a widespread outage left much of the Arizona city without electricity Tuesday morning.

4 hours ago

Mobile mammography unit offers breast cancer screenings in Valley...

Serena O'Sullivan

Banner Health offers on-the-go breast cancer screenings with mobile mammography unit

Banner Health announced its 3D mobile mammography unit, which will screen Valley women for breast cancer, last week.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Funding to support oral histories in boarding school era