Dec 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Nevada governor apologizes for state's forced removal of Native children

Photo of Steve Sisolak speaking from a podium

Photo: Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday apologized for the state's role in forcibly removing hundreds of Native American children from their families in the 19th and mid-20th centuries, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.

Why it matters: Nevada, like other states at the time, participated in federal efforts to assimilate Indigenous people into white society, helping set up residential schools where children from at least 200 different tribal nations were forced to reject their cultures and traditions on a daily basis. Many endured abuse and long-term trauma.

What they're saying: "Though it was the federal government that established a policy to 'kill the Indian to save the man,' it was the state of Nevada that sold the bonds to fund this school, and it's the state that now manages much of this land," Sisolak said at a press conference after a meeting with Nevada tribal leaders and Interior officials, per RGJ.

  • "On the behalf of this state I want to make an apology," the Democratic governor said, calling the history "abhorrent."
  • "Acknowledging this role will not heal the pain. … However, this is the beginning, and I’m proud to be the governor to take that first step."
  • The state is fully cooperating with federal officials, he added.

The big picture: The Biden administration announced an investigation into Indian boarding schools after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were unearthed at the site of an old Canadian residential school in June.

  • "We want people to put this into perspective that what happened to Native kids here at Stewart, happened to thousands of other Native kids at other boarding schools in other states," Bobbi Rahder, director of the Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum, told RGJ in September.
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