Report Shows Church-State Collusion on US Native Residential SchoolsBreaking News
tags: racism, Native American history, Indian Residential Schools
A new Interior Department report on the legacy of boarding schools for Native Americans underscores how closely the U.S. government collaborated with churches to Christianize them as part of a project to sever them from their culture, their identities and ultimately their land.
The role of churches forms a secondary part of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report, released Wednesday after a yearlong review sparked by the 2021 discoveries of hundreds of potential graves at former residential schools in Canada. Most of it focuses on the government’s responsibility for its own officials’ actions and policies.
But it details how the government provided funding and other support to religious boarding schools for Native children in the 19th and early 20th centuries to an extent that normally would have been prohibited under rules on separation between church and state. Churches had clout with the government as well, it adds, and were able to recommend people for appointments to federal positions on Native affairs.
While this church-state collaboration is well known to specialists in the field and was the subject of federal reports in past generations, the latest one brings it to a wide audience at a time when many Americans are only beginning to learn about the boarding schools.
The Interior Department report, quoting a 1969 Senate investigation, acknowledges that “federal policy toward the Indian was based on the desire to dispossess him of his land. Education policy was a function of our land policy.”