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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) are urging the Indian Health Service (IHS) to ensure that culturally appropriate supports are in place for survivors and communities impacted by lingering effects of Indian boarding school policies. Their outreach to IHS via a letter follows Interior Secretary Deb Haaland establishment of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative on June 22, 2021.

Sen. Warren and Rep. Davids asked that IHS develop protections with the Dept. of Health and Human Services programs and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for those who suffer from intergenerational trauma associated with Indian boarding school policies.

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The letter was joined by 19 of their colleagues in Congress.

“We urge IHS to consider potential protections for those experiencing trauma from the Indian Boarding School Policies and the revelations that will continue to emerge during the course of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. This revisiting and exploration of the boarding school era could be traumatic for survivors, their families, and their communities.”

The requests in the letter were suggested—and are supported—by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB). One step identified in the letter that has been recommended by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and NIHB is the creation of a culturally competent hotline.

The legacy of the Indian boarding school policies continues to impact Native communities through intergenerational trauma, grief over the loss of children who never returned, cycles of violence and abuse, disappearance, health disparities, substance abuse, premature deaths, despair, and additional undocumented psychological trauma.

“The Indian Boarding School era is a stain in America’s history, and it is long overdue that we begin to formally investigate the past wrongs and ongoing harms of these policies. We therefore strongly commend the Biden Administration’s courage and commitment to investigating the harms imposed on Native communities by the federal government, and we look forward to working together to address the resulting painful intergenerational reverberations in Native communities today,” the lawmakers concluded.

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The truth about Indian Boarding Schools

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