May 11 (Reuters) - A U.S. government investigation into the dark history of Native American boarding schools has found "marked or unmarked burial sites" at 53 of them, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said on Wednesday.
Haaland, the first Native American cabinet member, announced the investigation last year. In releasing preliminary findings during a press conference in Washington, she spoke through tears and in a choked-up voice.
"The federal policies that attempted to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continue to manifest in the pain tribal communities face today," Haaland said. "We must shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past."
Until Wednesday, the U.S. government had yet to provide any true accounting of the legacy of the schools, which used education to change culture so tribal land could be taken. Families were forced to send their children to the schools.