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Post Investigation Reveals Pervasive Sexual Abuse At Catholic-run Boarding Schools For Native American Children

Firsthand accounts and other evidence reveal the brutality and sexual abuse inflicted upon children who were taken from their families under a systematic effort by the federal government to destroy Native American culture, assimilate children into White society and seize tribal lands, The Washington Post reports. The Post investigation reveals a portrait of pervasive sexual abuse endured by Native American children at Catholic-run schools in remote regions of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, including Alaska. At least 122 priests, sisters and brothers assigned to 22 boarding schools since the 1890s were later accused of sexually abusing Native American children under their care, The Post found. Most of the documented abuse occurred in the 1950s and 1960s and involved more than 1,000 children. “A national crime scene” is how Deborah Parker, a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes and the chief executive of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, described the network of church-run Indian boarding schools. 


From 1819 to 1969, tens of thousands of children were sent to more than 500 boarding schools across the country, the majority run or funded by the U.S. government. Children were stripped of their names, their long hair was cut, and they were beaten for speaking their languages, leaving deep emotional scars on Native American families and communities. By 1900, 1 out of 5 Native American school-age children attended a boarding school. At least 80 of the schools were operated by the Catholic Church or its religious affiliates. “They committed crimes under the cloak,” said Parker, whose grandmother and other family members were sent to boarding schools. “They did it in the name of God.”

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