A member of the United States’ federal cabinet claims she sobbed when she learned from Canada that there are unmarked burial places for children’s bodies at a former residential school. Deb Haaland was reminded of her own Pueblo ancestors, such as her grandmother, who was removed from her family as a child, thrown on a train, and placed in the American equivalent of a residential school for five years.
Haaland took action after weeping. The New Mexico politician is the first Indigenous person to manage the government department that supervised U.S. assimilation schools. She’s also begun an inquiry into their legacy. In a note to the Department of the Interior last month, she stated that the news from Canada should inspire a reconsideration of what Americans refer to as native boarding schools.
She asked for a report on the schools, cemeteries, and the likelihood of uncovering unidentifiable remains before next year. It’s only natural that efforts to examine the legacy of assimilation schools take place in both Canada and the United States at the same time.
That’s because they’ve always been connected. That argument was expressed some years ago in the findings of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.