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‘Road to Healing’ tour makes final stop

The “Road to Healing” tour made a stop in Anchorage, Alaska, in October. (NABS Facebook)

Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Deb Haaland’s (Laguna Pueblo) “Road to Healing” tour made its last stop in Montana on Nov. 5. It was the last in a series of U.S. stops that began in July of 2022 in Oklahoma. Other states on the tour were Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah and Washington state. The gatherings usually took place on reservations.

The tour was designed to allow Native American survivors of the federal Indian boarding school system to share their stories, to connect communities with trauma-support resources, and to record an oral history. It began in response to recommendations from an investigative report that came out of the ongoing federal Indian boarding school initiative that began in June 2021. The DOI has published the transcripts from each tour stop on its website.

“The ‘Road to Healing’ has been an incredible opportunity to share with folks from across the country – and one that has left an indelible mark on how we will proceed with our work,” Haaland said in a Nov. 6 news release. “This is one step among many that we will take to strengthen and rebuild the bonds within Native communities that federal Indian boarding school policies set out to break. Those steps have the potential to alter the course of our future.”

According to the DOI, from 1819 through the 1970s the U.S. implemented policies that established and supported Indian boarding schools across the country. By 1926, 60,889, or nearly 83% of Indian school-age children attended boarding schools. The purpose was cultural assimilation by forcibly removing the children from their families, communities, languages, religions and cultural beliefs. Many endured physical and emotional abuse and in some cases died.

An initial DOI investigation found that from 1819 to 1969, the federal Indian boarding school system consisted of 408 federal schools across 37 states or (then) territories, including 21 in Alaska and seven in Hawaii. Churches ran more than 150 schools – about half each by Catholic and Protestant groups, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS). The investigation also identified marked or unmarked burial sites at 53 different schools across the system – a number the DOI expects to increase.

A DOI-led inventory of the schools – that includes profiles and maps – has Florida connections, too. It notes the St. Augustine Day School for Apache Children at Fort Marion, dating to 1886 and 1887. The DOI information states that while Fort Marion was used to incarcerate members of various tribes, including Seminoles, the crowded conditions prompted officials to visit the site and assess whether some of the young men and teenagers would make good pupils for boarding schools. Florida is also referenced in connection with a Mississippi school from 1820 to 1830.

More information is at and

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at