Today marks dark history of boarding schools for Native kids. Arizona had 2nd most in the U.S.

By Gabriel Pietrorazio
Published: Saturday, September 30, 2023 - 7:05am
Updated: Friday, October 20, 2023 - 3:51pm

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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Children who attended Phoenix Indian School in the 1950s
Mariana Dale/KJZZ
Children who attended Phoenix Indian School in the 1950s.

It's the National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools, and Arizona's role in assimilating Native children continues casting a dark cloud on the Southwest.

Boarding schools began popping up long before statehood, around the turn of the 19th century, in Tuba City and Kayenta, bigger cities like Phoenix and Tucson, and pretty much everywhere in between.

The Arizona Mirror's Shondiin Silversmith talks with The Show host Lauren Gilger

Last year, the Interior Department’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative identified 408 institutions. Forty-seven of them were in Arizona — second only to Oklahoma. These two states tallied almost a third of all federally-funded boarding schools nationwide, but those numbers are still climbing.

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition continues finding former institutions, with their latest list from August unearthing another 12 schools in Arizona. Now, the group’s national count has risen to 523.

A map of Arizona dots where the state
U.S. Department of the Interior/Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative
A map of Arizona dots where the state's 47 federally-funded boarding schools were once located.

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