In efforts toward uncovering the truth about the historical impact of Indian boarding schools in the United States, the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) has released a digital map containing a total of 523 Indian boarding schools across the United States. This is the most extensive known list of schools to date and encompasses both federally operated boarding schools and institutions run by various religious entities.
The 523 schools are shown alongside known Indian residential schools in Canada, demonstrating an international scope and context geographically for the first time. Users will be able to find the locations and general information about all 523 schools, including known dates, operators, and historical notes.
Explore the interactive digital map.
“NABS is honored to release our latest findings and digital map, which will be an important resource for any future research conducted around Indian boarding schools,” said Deidre Whiteman (Spirit Lake Dakota, Hidatsa), Director of Research and Education for NABS. “Researchers, educators, and policymakers now have a place to start to inform understanding and future change.”
In May 2022, the U.S. Department of the Interior released volume one of its Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report, identifying 408 Indian boarding schools that were operated, funded, or supported by the United States government. In NABS’s latest research, it identified an additional 115 schools, with the majority being operated without federal support by church institutions who had authority to establish schools to carry out U.S. policies meant to assimilate Native children.
Learn more about the research and findings.
“I believe this tool is going to greatly help our relatives who are seeking answers and who are on their own healing journeys,” said Dr. Samuel Torres (Mexica/Nahua), Deputy CEO for NABS. “Every Indigenous person in this country has been impacted by the deliberate attempt to destroy Native families and cultures through boarding schools. For us to visually see the scope of what was done to our communities and Nations at this scale is overwhelming, but this work is necessary to uncover the truth about this dark chapter in American history.”
NABS is already beginning to utilize its latest findings to inform future research, curriculum, and archival digitization efforts. In November, the organization will be releasing a first-of-its-kind archival database—the National Indian Boarding School Digital Archive. After its launch, the organization plans to update the digital map with links directly to available archival records.
“We believe our latest findings will open up new dialogues and bring new insights, allowing us to dig even deeper in examining the truth in this history, as well as continued calls for accountability,” Dr. Torres said.
The digital map was created in partnership with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which educates Canadians on the injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation by the forced removal of children to attend residential schools and the widespread abuse suffered in those schools.
“NCTR is honored to partner with NABS to expand the international research of these assimilative institutions,” said Jessie Boiteau (Métis Nation), Senior Archivist for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. “Through this digital map, we are not just capturing history. We have created a tool that can be used today to impact what happens in the future.”