- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — Congressional members in both the Senate and the House today reintroduced Indian Boarding School legislation that seeks healing for “stolen Native children and their communities.” The announcement coincided with the National Day of Remembrance for Indian boarding schools.
The legislation, called The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act, was first introduced last year by then Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), now secretary of the U.S. Dept. of the Interior. The bill was reintroduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in the Senate, with a House version of the bill introduced by the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Native American Caucus, Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK).
This bill would establish a formal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge past injustices of the federal government's Indian Boarding School Policies. This includes attempts to terminate Native cultures, religions, and languages; assimilation practices; and human rights violations. The commission would also develop recommendations for Congress to aid in healing of the historical and intergenerational trauma passed down in Native families and communities. It would also provide a forum for victims to speak about personal experiences tied to these human rights violations.
"The Indian Boarding School Policies are a stain in America's history,” Sen. Warren said in a statement. “These policies and practices caused unimaginable suffering and trauma for survivors, victims, and the thousands of Native families who remain impacted by them.
“This is why Congresswoman Davids, Congressman Cole, and I are introducing legislation that would establish a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies. This Commission would formally investigate the past wrongs of the federal government's attempts to terminate the cultures, religions, and languages of Native communities and respond to the ongoing historical and intergenerational trauma devastating tribal communities today.”
“The U.S. Indian Boarding School Policies stripped children from their families and their cultures—actions that continue to impact Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities today. Our country must do better to acknowledge its legacy and understand the full truth of these policies,” Rep. Davids said.
“Establishing the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy will provide an important step toward resolving and healing from one of our nation’s darkest periods,” Rep. Cole said. “While we cannot erase this difficult chapter in our history, studying and understanding the societal, cultural and personal impact of forcibly removing Native American and Alaskan Native children from their homes, families, communities and heritage for nearly a century is certainly worth investigating. I am proud to support the creation of this investigative commission to provide answers for these communities.”
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), based in Minneapolis, offered its endorsement of the legislation in a statement.
“We are in a moment in history where the wound of unresolved grief from Indian boarding schools is being ripped wide open. The truth is being unearthed and yet so much more is still unknown,” NABS CEO Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe) said in a statement. “It is time for a federal Truth Commission to provide answers to the thousands of relatives of those children who were taken, went missing, or died at these schools. The Truth and Healing Commission on U.S. Indian Boarding School Policies will be the beginning of profound healing for the Indigenous Peoples of this country.”
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