Researchers Identify Dozens of Indigenous Students Who Died at Nebraska School

On the outskirts of the city of Genoa in the Neb., A stone monument serves as a gravestone on the grounds of a government-run boarding s...


On the outskirts of the city of Genoa in the Neb., A stone monument serves as a gravestone on the grounds of a government-run boarding school for Native Americans that has been closed for almost a century.

No one knows how many students died there at the Indian Industrial School in Genoa, although thousands have passed through its doors. Government documents have proven elusive or obscured an exact death toll. No graves were found on the ground.

But, using scanned government documents and newspaper clippings, researchers recently reconstructed part of the history of the School of Genoa, which operated from 1884 to 1934 and once spanned 30 buildings and 640 acres.

Researchers have confirmed that at least 87 children died at school and have identified 50 of them, whose names have not been made public. The true death toll is likely much higher, they said.

Researchers can publish the names of deceased students after consulting with their families and local leaders. The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs is conducting a search for graves at the Genoa school site, where only one building and two barns remain.

The research effort, titled The Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project and reported last week by The World-Herald of Omaha, gives impetus to an international calculation with the mass forced move from Native American children to residential schools, where they were brought to assimilate into the preferred way of life of governments.

Experts estimate that after the passage by Congress of the Civilization Fund Act in 1819, which authorized the government to educate Native Americans, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were sent to boarding schools run by the government or by schools. churches. Some have never returned home.

Dr Margaret Jacobs, professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and one of the directors of the Genoa project, said it was time to confront “these really tough stories”.

“I think when Americans hear the word ‘school’ they think of something really positive,” she said. “It took some time for Americans to realize that residential schools are not a benevolent institution, that they were created to separate Indian children from their families and communities, to sever their ties. “

There were at least 367 residential schools in 29 states, with the highest concentration in the central United States, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, a non-profit organization created to address the legacy of schools.

An 1885 report from the Indian Affairs Commission said the institution, where students would also work by cooking, cleaning, cultivating or learning a trade, was “the only cure” to protect young Native Americans from the ” contamination of such gross immoralities “in the” wild “environments in which they were born.

There is no formal estimate of how many students enrolled in these schools and how many perished there, said coalition executive director Christine Diindiisi McCleave.

“No one knows the real number because no one has yet fully reviewed the files,” she added.

In the 19th century, Canada also established compulsory residential schools for Indigenous children. In a 2015 report, a dedicated commission estimated that 150,000 students attended the schools until they closed at the end of the 20th century. The report also found that at least 6,000 students died in these schools, most of them from malnutrition or disease.

Schools were an example of “cultural genocide” perpetuated by the Canadian government, according to the commission report, describing them as an institution that fractured families and identities, banning languages, social practices and valuables.

Local groups and government agencies continued to search for names and graves linked to schools. This year, an Indigenous community in British Columbia found a anonymous mass grave in British Columbia containing the bodies of up to 751 people on the site of a former school. The remains of 3-year-old children were found.

A month later, the US Department of the Interior announced an initiative to search government boarding sites for Native American burials. The department is analyzing government records and consulting with indigenous communities and plans to release a report in April, its press secretary Tyler Cherry said.

Judi gaiashkibos, a member of the Ponca tribe and executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, said it is high time the United States “made this heritage its own.” Ms gaiashkibos, who says she uses a lowercase letter for her last name as a sign of humility, said her mother and aunts attend school.

Ms gaiashkibos said the team may release the names of the deceased students after speaking to the families of the deceased. Dr Jacobs said before that the team needed to consult with community counselors.

“For so long we were afraid to tell stories of genocide,” she said, adding that many Nebraska residents were unaware of the Genoa school’s past. “Let’s do it all and tell the whole story. I think it’s really about time.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Researchers Identify Dozens of Indigenous Students Who Died at Nebraska School
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