Last Wednesday, a national investigative report was released by the U.S. Department of the Interior identifying more than 400 federally-run schools for Native American children, including 15 in Washington state. Beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the 1960s, federal officials forcibly removed children from their families and placed them with educators who suppressed the use of Native language and any learning of Native cultures and beliefs. This included changing their Native names, cutting their hair, wearing uniforms and more.
The report is the first step for the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland last June following stunning revelations of hundreds of unmarked graves at Indian residential schools in Canada.
"The federal and state governments of the United States have dealt tremendous loss and suffering to the Native and Indigenous people throughout generations, including the horrific and systematic erasure of their culture and their children," Inslee said in response to the report. "It is difficult to confront such hard truths about our past, but it is necessary for healing and progress. Washington state stands ready to do what we can to acknowledge the trauma and harm these schools caused, and uplift the efforts of those who fight to ensure the many Tribal languages, cultures and knowledge persist and flourish."
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