City to use radar to research Indian residential school burial site history
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – City of Albuquerque officials plan to use ground-penetrating radar for their research into the history of a site where dozens of Native American boarding school students were reportedly buried there over a century ago.
Orange flags will also be placed in the city park to signify the significance of the site as more permanent plans are drawn between city officials, indigenous leaders and rights groups. Orange is the color used to symbolize the movement that raises awareness of the troubled legacy of the residential school system that sought to assimilate Indigenous youth into white society for many decades.
Indigenous activists were concerned earlier this year when a memorial plaque for students at the former Albuquerque Indian School went missing. They established a makeshift memorial of flowers and other offerings and demanded an investigation.
The plaque’s disappearance came as the U.S. government launched a nationwide investigation into residential schools, where reports of physical and sexual abuse were rife and children who died while attending schools were often buried in anonymous graves. Part of the massive undertaking is to determine how many children have perished.
The recent discoveries of child remains in Canada and the investigation in the United States have stirred up strong emotions among tribal communities, including grief, anger, reflection and a deep desire for healing.
City officials have recognized the intergenerational pain caused by federal boarding school policies. Although it cannot be undone, they said reconciliation is in order. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller apologized on behalf of the city in a statement released Wednesday.
“This is important because we have the opportunity to learn and understand our collective history and to make meaningful change,” said Rebecca Riley, native of Acoma Pueblo and member of the City’s Business Commission. Native American and Alaskan Native Americans. âWe deserve to understand the truth, to determine our steps forward, and we owe it to the Indigenous children and staff who have never returned home to do better. “
In the United States, the Indian Civilization Act of 1819 and other laws and policies were enacted to establish and support hundreds of residential schools. For more than 150 years, children have been removed from their communities and placed in boarding schools focused on assimilation.
The Albuquerque Indian School was founded in 1881 by the Presbyterian Church and came under federal control a few years later. The school closed in the 1980s and ownership was turned over to the 19 pueblos of New Mexico. The buildings were eventually demolished and a tribal development company is working to turn it into a shopping center.
The park is a few blocks away.
The Alaska Native and Native Affairs Commission recommended that city council pass a resolution recognizing the history of the Albuquerque Indian School and its burial grounds, with a commitment to work with leaders and Native American residents to ensure that history is not forgotten.
Over the long term, the commission recommended that Albuquerque commit to funding health and community initiatives that have a direct impact on the health and well-being of Native American residents affected by federal boarding school policies.
Another recommendation calls for working with Indigenous leaders to develop a curriculum on the history of the Albuquerque Indian School and Native Americans in New Mexico and the American Southwest.
According to the commission, illness and illness contributed significantly to the cause of death among students and staff at the old school, and information regarding the number of people buried and their location in the city park is not conclusive.
The city said a public commemorative event and additional meetings are planned over the next few weeks.