Our communities are still mourning

Trauma is passed from generation to generation. The recent documentation of the remains of 215 Native children at a boarding school in Canada has re-opened deep wounds in Native communities.

Some of my Native friends have shared how this affects them and their families today. Many have been triggered by this atrocity. One of my Native friends wrote that she was NOT OK. Another told me, “I’m trying not to be enraged in my mourning.” Secretary Haaland says, “Our communities are still mourning”.

The following is a portion of remarks delivered by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland at the National Congress of American Indians mid-year session on June 22, 2021. 

Another issue that is so personal to me is the devastating history of the U.S. government’s boarding school policies. Like many of you was, I was deeply impacted by the news of 215 Indigenous children found in a mass grave at a boarding school in Canada. I couldn’t help but think of their families.

Each of those children is a missing family member, a person who was not able to live out their purpose because forced assimilation policy. And did their lives too soon. I thought of my own child who carries this generational trauma with them. I thought of my grandmother who told me about the pain and loneliness she endured when the trains to curl away from her family to boarding school.

I wept with the Indigenous members of our team here at Interior. Our communities are still mourning. The federal policies that attempted to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continued to manifest in the pain our communities face, including long-standing intergenerational trauma cycles of violence and abuse disappearance of Indigenous people, premature deaths, mental disorders, and substance abuse.

‘Our communities are still mourning’: Secretary Haaland announces federal Indian boarding school initiative, Indianz.com, June 22, 2021

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