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Bill advances for Truth and Healing Commission related to abuses at government-run Indigenous boarding schools

Indigenous Boarding Schools
Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia via AP, File
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This photo made available by the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia shows students at a Presbyterian boarding school in Sitka, Alaska in the summer of 1883. U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.

A House committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would create a commission to investigate historical abuses at Indian boarding schools, despite Republican concerns over the scope and power of the commission.

Cronkite News Digest reports the Truth and Healing Commission would investigate federal and mission boarding schools, which operated from the late 1800s into the 1900s.

The schools were seen largely as an attempt to obliterate Native society and culture from Indigenous children, who were often abused and sometimes killed.

The commission will be charged with uncovering historical records, documenting unmarked grave sites, investigating cases of abuse and making recommendations on how the federal government should respond.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army has started disinterring the remains of eight Native American children who died at a government-run boarding school that operated in Pennsylvania between 1879 and 1918.

The disinterment process began last weekend in a cemetery on the grounds of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle.

Custody of the remains will be transferred to the children’s closest living relatives.

It is the fifth such process since 2017. More than 20 sets of remains were transferred to family members in earlier disinterments.

The Carlisle school housed thousands of First Nations children who were taken from their families and forced to assimilate to white society.