OLYMPIA – On Wednesday, a national investigative report was released by the U.S. Department of the Interior identifying more than 400 federally-run schools for Native American children, including 15 in Washington state.
Beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the 1960s, federal officials forcibly removed children from their families and placed them with educators who suppressed the use of the Native language and any learning of Native cultures and beliefs. This included changing their Native names, cutting their hair, wearing uniforms, and more.
The report is the first step for the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland last June following stunning revelations of hundreds of unmarked graves at Indian residential schools in Canada. The institutions identified in the report that operated in Washington include:
- Chehalis Boarding and Day School in Oakville
- Colville Mission School in Kettle Falls
- Cushman Indian School in Tacoma
- Fort Simcoe Indian Boarding School in White Swan
- Fort Spokane Boarding School in Davenport
- Neah Bay Boarding and Day School in Neah Bay
- Puyallup Indian School in Squaxin Island
- Quinaielt Boarding and Day School in Taholah
- S’Kokomish Boarding and Day School in Olympia
- St. George Indian Residential School in Federal Way
- St. Joseph’s Boarding School in Federal Way
- Paschal Sherman Indian School in Omak
- Tonasket Boarding School in Tonasket
- Tulalip Indian Industrial School in Tulalip Bay
- Tulalip Mission School in Priest’s Point
“The federal and state governments of the United States have dealt tremendous loss and suffering to the Native and Indigenous people throughout generations, including the horrific and systematic erasure of their culture and their children,” Inslee said in response to the report. “It is difficult to confront such hard truths about our past, but it is necessary for healing and progress. Washington state stands ready to do what we can to acknowledge the trauma and harm these schools caused, and uplift the efforts of those who fight to ensure the many Tribal languages, cultures and knowledge persist and flourish.”
Secretary Haaland is the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary. You can read her op-ed about her family’s experience with federal boarding schools.