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Tribal Affairs

Feds To Consult Tribes As Boarding School Initiative Gets Underway

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Taylar Stagner
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
Supporters march through downtown Billings on Sept. 24, 2021 to remember people affected by Bureau of Indian Affairs-run boarding schools.

Today Indigenous people all over the U.S. are wearing orange to commemorate the survivors of federal Bureau of Indian Affairs-run boarding schools. This morning the Department of the Interior announced the next step to catalog the impact of these schools.

Earlier this summer, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the Federal Boarding School Initiative, and the first steps announced today are to start tribal consultations. The department said in a press release that it’s looking for input from tribal leaders all over the U.S. to understand how to move forward with documenting things like sensitive information and potential burial sites.

Haaland said about this first step, “Tribal consultations are at the core of this long and painful process to address the intergenerational trauma of Indian boarding schools and to shed light on the truth in a way that honors those we have lost and those that continue to suffer trauma.”

Montana has had sixteen of these schools, some of which closed after the federal Indian boarding school program shut down, the last of which closed in the 1980s. Others like St. Labre in Ashland were converted to modern-day schools.

Taylar Stagner is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America Indigenous Affairs reporter.