NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Pueblo leaders are applauding the Interior Department’s probe into the history of federal Native American boarding schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the investigation last week.

It will document the history of the boarding schools established by the US government in the 19th century, to forge the assimilation of Indigenous children. The practice was in place as late as the 1960s, and the probe will also look into the lasting impacts on Indigenous communities today.

It will also collect records on burial sites from the boarding school era and identify students buried there.

In a press release from the All Pueblo Council of Governors, Chairman Wilfred Herrera Jr. commented on Haaland’s initiative. “It’s incredibly painful to recount what Pueblo parents and children experienced during this unbelievable period of forced cultural assimilation. During this time, the federal government’s assimilationist policies literally ripped our Pueblo children – some as young as four years old – from the arms of their mothers, stripping them of tender parental care and compassion; many unable to return home until the completion of their studies. While some of our children endured years of abuse for speaking our languages, practicing our cultures, and maintaining our traditions, the unbearable truth is that many
of our young never returned to their Pueblo homelands, ever.”