Tribal elders recall painful boarding school memories

The Associated Press - July 10, 2022 8:40 am

Ray Doyah, the first to speak on his experiences at an Indian boarding school, bows his head as he listens to others speak at a meeting to hear about the painful experiences of Native Americans who were sent to government-backed boarding schools designed to strip them of their cultural identities, Saturday, July 9, 2022, in Anadarko, Okla. One by one, Native American tribal elders who were once students at government-backed Indian boarding schools testified about the hardships they endured: beatings, whippings, sexual assaults, forced haircuts, and painful nicknames. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

ANADARKO, Okla. (AP) — Native American tribal elders in Oklahoma delivered powerful testimony to federal officials about their experiences in government-backed Indian boarding schools.

The stop on Saturday at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, was the first visit by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. She has embarked on a yearlong nationwide tour to hear about the painful experiences of Native Americans who were sent to the schools designed to strip them of their cultural identities.

Although most of the boarding schools closed long ago and none still exist to assimilate Native children into white society, some like Riverside still function as schools, albeit with drastically different missions that they say aim to celebrate the cultural backgrounds of their Native students.

 

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