The Interior Department has documented the deaths of more than 500 Indigenous children at Indian boarding schools run or supported by the federal government in the United States which operated from 1819 to 1969. The actual death toll is believed to be far higher, and the report located 53 burial sites at former schools. The report was ordered by the first Indigenous cabinet member, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose grandparents were forced to attend boarding school at the age of 8. “It’s kind of a misnomer to actually call these educational institutions or schools themselves when you didn’t have very many people graduating, let alone surviving the dire conditions of those schools,” says Nick Estes, historian and co-founder of The Red Nation. Estes says the institutions were part of a “genocidal process” of “dispossession and theft of Indigenous people’s lands and resources.”
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