Interior Department launches oral history preservation of Indian boarding schools

On Sept. 26, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced it will launch an oral history project to document the experiences of Indigenous children who attended federal boarding school systems.

“Creating a permanent oral history collection about the federal Indian boarding school system is part of the Department’s mission to honor its political, trust and legal responsibilities, and commitments to Tribes,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

According to a news release from the DOI The oral history project will retain the stories and experiences of the boarding school’s survivors for future generations. Department and Smithsonian National Museum of American History are discussing how to support this work.

Dating back to 1819 the United States federal government established boarding schools in collaboration with multiple Christian churches in order to erase the culture, language and practices of Indigenous peoples, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, a Native history organization a part of the Navajo Nation.

According to the National Park System, a common philosophy of the boarding school system was to “kill the Indian” to “save the man.”

According to their statement, DOI representatives will travel across the U.S. to gather first hand narratives from survivors. The narratives will be made public.