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Haaland, Newland to hear Native boarding school survivors’ stories in Pellston

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Haaland, Newland to hear Native boarding school survivors’ stories in Pellston

Aug 05, 2022 | 3:00 pm ET
By Laina G. Stebbins
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Haaland, Newland to hear Native boarding school survivors’ stories in Pellston
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U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland joined Nevada Reps. Dina Titus (left) and Susie Lee in Las Vegas Sunday to highlight how the newly enacted infrastructure act would benefit the West. | Jeniffer Solis/States Newsroom

Pellston is the next stop on U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s year-long “road to healing” tour, in which the country’s first Native American cabinet member will hear from survivors and descendants of so-called Indian residential schools.

The nationwide implementation of boarding schools — five of which were located in Michigan — was once part of a federal policy to forcibly assimilate Native Americans into white culture.

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, a citizen of the Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, will be joining Haaland in the northern Michigan village on Tuesday.

The event is meant to provide an opportunity for Native survivors and their descendants an opportunity to share their experiences.

A 106-page report released May 11 by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) was the DOI’s first step of a comprehensive investigation to address the dark history of the boarding schools. The report found that 408 federally funded or operated boarding schools existed across 37 states, including Michigan.

More than 1,000 other institutions that may have served to educate Native children were also identified, including day schools, asylums and orphanages.

The five in Michigan include the Holy Childhood School of Jesus in Harbor Springs; the Old St. Joseph Orphanage and School in Assinins (or Baraga Chippewa Boarding and Day School) near Baraga in the Upper Peninsula; the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School in Mount Pleasant; he Mackinac Mission School (or Sainte Anne School); and the Catholic Otchippewa Boarding School, or Otchippewa Day and Orphan Boarding, in the U.P.’s Schoolcraft County.

In addition to Michigan, Haaland and Newland’s tour includes stops in Oklahoma, Hawaii, Arizona and South Dakota this year. More states will be added in 2023.

Trauma-informed support will be available onsite during the event in Pellston, which will be memorialized as part of the effort to capture first-person stories, the department noted in its release.