ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An apology was given by the City of Albuquerque Saturday. It happened during an event to honor those buried at an Albuquerque park, which served as a cemetery for the former Albuquerque Indian Boarding School students.

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Several City of Albuquerque Native American leaders gathered Saturday afternoon providing more insight on the trauma they say the Albuquerque Indian Boarding School caused and continues to carry throughout their community. Now the city is looking to honor those students and families impacted by the Albuquerque Indian Boarding School where they said hundreds, if not thousands, of Native American children, were forced to go from 1882 to 1933.   

“The purpose of the boarding schools was to forcibly remove children from their families and communities and relocate them to distant residential facilities. In an effort to deliberately eradicate language, beliefs, culture, and identities,” said Dawn Begay, Native American Affairs Coordinator with the city.

Mayor Tim Keller and David Flores, the deputy director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, apologized on behalf of the city’s part in the dark legacy left behind by the boarding school. They said the city is doing its part to protect and honor the children that went to the school and were buried at 4H Park in Albuquerque. 

“We took the first step in demarcating the site right now, and right now, there are signs placed out there asking the public to respect this sacred site,” said Flores. 

While there are still questions about what they’ll do with the site, city leaders said working with and listening to Pueblo and Tribal leaders as well as others in the Indigenous communities to find a proper way to honor those children will be essential. “We must continue to participate in heartfelt, meaningful discussions and engage in productive dialogue with each other,” said Kyle Tapaha with the city of Albuquerque.

The city is planning on also working with an archaeologist to find out what exactly lies underneath the sacred site. The public will have a chance to weigh in at the city’s virtual community stakeholder discussion on October 8 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.