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Department of Interior report lists 18 Indian boarding schools in Montana

A map titled 'Federal Indian Boarding School Sites Identified in Montana' shows 18 school sites, mostly centered around the state's seven Indian reservations.
U.S. Department of Interior
Federal Indian Boarding School Sites Identified in Montana

The U.S. Department of the Interior Wednesday released a report that for the first time lists former federal Indian boarding schools in the country. The investigation found 18 sites in Montana.

The report found that 18 boarding school sites across Montana tried to assimilate Indigenous children by discouraging or preventing native languages, religion and cultural practices.

The report says the sites in Montana were found by looking at institutions that provided housing, received federal funding, were operational before 1969 and provided formal academic or vocational training or instruction.

Jerry Nicolai is an elder at the Ksanka Culture Committee and attended the St. Ignatius Mission and School, which is on the Interior Department’s list. He says it’s important for people to know what it was like for an Indian to go to a boarding school.

“Every one of us that attended those catholic boarding schools that our lives were transferred to our children’s lives.”

More than 400 federal boarding school sites across the country were identified in the report.

The department’s investigation documented marked or unmarked burial sites at 53 different schools across the country. However, the report says to protect against disturbances it will not name the sites .

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland initiated the investigation last year to better understand the schools’ impacts on the attendees.

Freddy Monares was a reporter and Morning Edition host at Montana Public Radio.
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