DENVER (KDVR) – Back on May 24, Gov. Jared Polis put pen to paper, launching a research investigation to uncover any abusive or deadly experiences lived by those who attended the now-closed pair of federally-run Indian boarding schools.

Polis’ signing of the Native American Boarding School Research Program Act permits History Colorado, a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, to conduct research in order to understand the physical and emotional abuse that occurred at federal Indian boarding schools in Colorado.

The focus of this research investigation is the once-open school in Hesperus, where researchers aim to uncover the burial places of students who died while attending the school. History Colorado has already begun research on the site of another now-closed federal Indian boarding school, located in Grand Junction and called the Teller Institute.

The information gathered during this research effort will be used to create recommendations on how to get the public to better understand the mistreatment and victimization that happened at these schools, all while expediting the healing process for the impacted tribal communities.

This investigation will be conducted alongside tribal partners, relevant experts and additional stakeholders, and will be led by the director of the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation at History Colorado and Colorado’s official state archaeologist, Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton. She carries expertise in dealing with sensitive cultural sites.

On Sept. 8, the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, along with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, will hold its first progress meeting. During the meeting, History Colorado will provide a progress report on the investigation. The public is welcome to join in person or virtually.