Report: Christians May Have Helped Run Half of Native American Boarding Schools

Canada’s findings at Kamloops last year have spurred US officials and denominations to investigate their involvement in the residential school system.

The United States operated 408 boarding schools for indigenous children across 37 states or then-territories between 1819 and 1969 — half of them likely supported by religious institutions.

That’s according to the first volume of an investigative report into the country’s Indian boarding school system that was released Wednesday by the US Department of the Interior.

“Our initial investigation results show that approximately 50 percent of federal Indian boarding schools may have received support or involvement from religious institutions or organizations, including funding, infrastructure and personnel,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said at a news conference on the progress of the department’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.

The report revealed nearly 40 more schools than the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition previously had identified in the US—and nearly three times more than the number of schools documented in Canada’s residential school system by that country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

It also identified marked or unmarked burial sites at more than 50 schools across the Indian boarding school system. The department expects that number to go up as it continues to investigate.

And it described an “unprecedented delegation of power by the Federal Government to church bodies.”

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative was announced last summer by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to investigate the history and lasting consequences of the schools. That announcement came as indigenous groups across Canada confirmed the remains of more than 1,000 indigenous children buried near former residential …

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