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Secretary Haaland Continues "The Road to Healing" in South Dakota

 

October 18, 2022



Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland visited South Dakota this weekend on the third stop on “The Road to Healing,” a year-long tour across the country to provide Indigenous survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system and their descendants an opportunity to share their experiences.

Secretary Haaland launched the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative to shed light on the troubled history of federal Indian boarding school policies and their legacy for Indigenous peoples. In May 2022, the Department released Volume 1 of an investigative report as part of the Initiative, which calls for connecting communities with trauma-informed support and facilitating the collection of a permanent oral history.

Select press coverage is below: 

AP: Native Americans recall torture, hatred at boarding schools

After her mother died when Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier was just four years old, she was put into a Native American boarding school in South Dakota and told her native Lakota language was “devil’s speak.” She recalls being locked in a basement at St. Francis Indian Mission School for weeks as punishment for breaking the school’s strict rules. Her long braids were shorn in a deliberate effort to stamp out her cultural identify. And when she broke her leg in an accident, Whirlwind Soldier said she received shoddy care leaving her with pain and a limp that still hobbles her decades later. “I thought there was no God, just torture and hatred,” Whirlwind Soldier testified during a Saturday event on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation led by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, as the agency confronts the bitter legacy of a boarding school system that operated in the U.S. for more than a century.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting: Interior Secretary Haaland is documenting abuse in federal Indian boarding schools

The Department of Interior held its third stop on a tour to hear from Indian Boarding school survivors. One of the department's goals is to create a permanent oral history of what occurred. Rosalie Quick Bear attended one of the 31 boarding schools located in South Dakota. The 78-year-old Sicangu Lakota describes being powdered with the pesticide DDT, spending weeks with an untreated broken leg, and getting locked in a dark cement cellar for days. It’s stories like this the Department of Interior is collecting as part of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. The initiative hopes to identify marked and unmarked burial sites across the boarding school system and the total amount of spending and federal support for the schools. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the tour is one step among many.

NewsCenter1: Boarding school survivors share stories of abuse during Secy. Haaland’s visit to South Dakota

It was a historic and emotional Saturday on the Rosebud Reservation, as boarding school survivors gathered to share their stories. Listening was U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “It is a historical event for everybody here,” said Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Scott Herman. Secretary Haaland, the first Indigenous woman to hold that office, made the third stop in the year-long “The Road to Healing” Tour in Mission, South Dakota. Haaland and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Bryan Newland, are collecting stories from boarding school survivors.

Dakota News Now: Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visits Mission on “Road to Healing” Tour

Rosalie Quick Bear is one of dozens of Native Americans who showed up to share testimony about their time in Federal Indian boarding schools on Saturday. Quick Bear relayed a story of being locked in a basement with a classmate at St. Francis Indian Mission School in St. Francis, South Dakota for “several days,” because the staff at the boarding school she attended had forgotten about her. “We couldn’t talk, we couldn’t see, our eyeballs were swollen, our noses were swollen, our throats were swollen,” Quick Bear shared with those in attendance. “We couldn’t talk at all anymore, just cry. And we couldn’t breath because our throats were so sore in the basement.” She was just one of the many who shared personal stories of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse while attending a boarding school. Others on hand told stories of family members or ancestors effected, and how that had affected them.

Native News Online: Boarding School Survivors Recount Their Experiences at 3rd ‘Road to Healing’ Event on Rosebud Indian Reservation

The mood inside the gymnasium at Sinte Gleska University on the Rosebud Indian Reservation was solemn Saturday morning as Secretary of Department of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo), Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland (Bay Mills Indian Community), and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Wizipan Garriott (Sicangu Lakota) entered the room. Looking back at them from folding chairs in the audience were rows of boarding school survivors, tribal leaders, and community members. Over the next several hours, those survivors would tell the federal officials—descendants of Indian boarding schools themselves—their stories.

 

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