Opening Doors to Truth, Justice, Healing – Twin Cities


For decades, federal Indian residential schools tore Native American children from their families, stripped them of their culture, and punished them for compliance.

These schools operated until 1969, and since then the US government has made little effort to acknowledge its role in Indigenous erasure. So far.

Within the walls of Federal Indian Residential Schools

The Department of the Interior released a report in May on the ongoing investigation into federal Indian residential schools. The results show a total of 408 boarding schools in 31 states. Twenty-one of those schools were here in Minnesota, which is home to a large urban Indian community in the Twin Cities.

According to the report, these residential schools deprived Indigenous children of their names, languages ​​and religious practices. Strict rules were created and enforced through harsh penalties, such as solitary confinement and physical violence.

“They were meant to be, essentially, broken up in these facilities so they could be reprogrammed into what was considered by mainstream society to be a socially acceptable Euro-American citizen,” said Samuel Torres, deputy general manager of The National Native. American. Residential School Healing Coalition.

Torres explained that the primary goal of NABS is to open doors of truth, justice, and healing for Native American communities. His organization partnered with the Department of the Interior to provide crucial information about the investigation into federal Indian residential schools.

The survey results highlight the negative impact of boarding schools on the health of Native Americans. According to medical studies cited in the investigation report, these schools were responsible for the chronic health problems of the children who attended them.

These health problems, particularly in men who have experienced abuse, have increased stress levels which have potentially altered biological functions.

Torres said this change can be passed between generations, called epigenetic inheritance.

The report also notes that the separation of Indian children from their families contributed to the risk of “PTSD, depression and unresolved grief” in adulthood.

The survey finally points to the upheaval of Aboriginal communities as a trigger for the intergenerational trauma experienced by Aboriginal people.

“There are these divisions in his own family, his own culture, his own nation, which have proven to be really difficult obstacles for indigenous communities and indigenous nations,” said Torres. “And so it’s not just happening for one generation. We are talking about several generations of children who have been taken from their homes.

The road to healing

Truth and accountability are important to Indigenous communities. The path to healing is through their indigenous ceremonies and medicines, as well as shared experiences within the community. It’s a painful but impactful process that takes a lot of courage, Torres said.

Torres clarified that it is not for NABS to dictate what healing looks like for Indigenous people. Instead, the organization aims to provide Indigenous communities with the resources they need to heal on their own terms.

That’s why NABS is creating an online resource that allows Natives to access residential school records.

Some religious organizations and private institutions that have been complicit in the assimilation of Aboriginal people have information files about them. NABS is working to recover these records to give Indigenous communities easy access to their history.

“Fundamentally, you can’t heal from what isn’t even named, what isn’t even known,” Torres said, “especially by a society that refuses to acknowledge its complicity in a whole method of indoctrination of generations of children of an indigenous group of these lands.

About these reports

These reports were written by the summer 2022 high school students of ThreeSixty Journalism’s News Reporter Academy. The academy and its holistic health equity theme was supported by Minnesota’s Blue Cross Blue Shield Center for Prevention, which connected students with history topics and sources.

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ThreeSixty Journalism is paving the way for the development of multicultural storytellers in the media arts industry. The program is a speaker for deaf voices, where highly motivated high school students discover the power of the voice and develop their own through ThreeSixty’s immersive college success programming. Started in 1971 as a chapter of the Urban Journalism Workshop, since 2001 the program has been part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas. To learn more about ThreeSixty journalism, visit


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