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Kalle Benallie

Department of Interior officials are visiting Oklahoma on Saturday. It's the first stop for the “Road to Healing” initiative.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, Bay Mills Indian Community, will be visiting the Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Oklahoma, on July 9.

The purpose of the initiative is to meet with federal Indian boarding school survivors and their descendants to share their experiences. It was launched in May when the first volume of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative’s investigative report was released. 

(Related: US boarding school investigative report released)

The year-long tour includes a visit to Hawaii, Michigan, Arizona and South Dakota. It’s expected they will visit more states in 2023.

“Trauma-informed support will be available on-site during the Oklahoma event, which will be memorialized as part of the effort to capture first-person stories,” according to the Interior’s press release.

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The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma is located in Anadarko and in Carnegie, which is about 25 miles from the Riverside Indian School. The tribe’s public relations spokesperson said they did not hear about the department’s visit until July 6.

They are scrambling to find tribal citizens to attend on late notice.

The Cherokee Nation said the Department of Interior and Haaland’s visit is a “much-needed step forward.”

“This gathering reflects the groundwork that is being laid to document, record and address the inter-generational trauma created by historic federal Indian boarding school policies,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr said. “Oklahoma was home to many boarding schools where our Cherokee people and citizens of other tribal nations were forced to live. Assimilation came at a steep price, and these boarding schools eroded many unique cultural identities and languages of Native people. We hope this process helps provide peace and a sense of healing for all those students and their families affected by the federal government’s anti-Indian policies.”

ICT will be on the ground to capture the first visit of the tour. Check back at for updates.

Boarding school survivors: Stories will be heard
US boarding schools to be investigated

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