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Interior Dept., tribal leaders push for boarding school commission

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(Juan Labreche/AP)
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U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the federal government has a responsibility to Native American tribes, Alaska Native villages and Native Hawaiian communities to fully support education, language and cultural practices that prior boarding school policies sought to destroy.

She testified Wednesday before a U.S. Senate committee on legislation to establish a national commission on truth and healing to address ongoing trauma stemming from the legacy of Native American boarding schools in the United States.

Tribal leaders and advocates from many states joined Haaland in voicing their support. They say a commission would offer a path for many to have their personal stories validated.

Last week, a House committee gave preliminary approval 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.