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MINNEAPOLIS — The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) says more mental wellness support resources are needed for Native Americans dealing with trauma associated with the discovery of graves at Indian residential schools in Canada earlier this year.

“We believe that healing will need to be community-led, and Tribal Nations should be at the forefront of determining what mental, spiritual and physical supports their citizens will need as this truth-telling process unfolds,” NABS CEO Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe) said.

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NABS and the National Indian Health Board initiated requests that led to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and 19 other members of Congress sending a letter to the Indian Health Service (IHS). The letter called for protections to be put in place for those who will experience trauma as further revelations emerge during the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative.

“The first step we need to take is caring for our boarding school survivors,” said NABS Director of Policy and Advocacy Deborah Parker (Tulalip Tribes). “We are grateful that Sen. Warren, Congresswoman Davids and the Congressional members who signed this letter have recognized the importance and urgency of putting in place trauma-informed support for our American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian relatives.

McCleave pointed out Canada has made available resources to survivors of residential schools, such as a national hotline, as an example of steps that could be implemented in the United States.

Recently, the federal government in Canada also committed to spending $107 million on mental health, culture and emotional services to support healing from boarding school intergenerational trauma. This was part of $321 million in new funding that also includes helping Indigenous communities search burial sites at former residential schools.

NABS continues to advocate for a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools, as the most complete step toward fully uncovering the truth, uplifting survivors, and charting a path toward healing.

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