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Last Friday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation to commemorate Sept. 30 as a “Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools.”

The proclamation recognizes that “for over 150 years, the United States pursued, embraced, or permitted a policy of forced assimilation of American Indians, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian people through the federal Indian boarding school system,” including 23 Indian boarding schools in the state of Minnesota.

“Today, we honor the Native children who never returned home from U.S. Indian boarding schools in Minnesota and across the country,” Gov. Walz wrote on Twitter. “We must recognize the history and ongoing legacy of these schools to move forward with better strategies to support and protect Native communities.”

On the National Day of Remembrance, the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) hosted a candlelight vigil at the Minnesota State capitol. The event featured prayers, dances and songs that honored boarding school survivors and the Native children that never made it home to their families. 

“Today’s proclamation from Governor Tim Walz is an act of truth, justice, and healing. We appreciate the Governor and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan for their leadership,” Deborah Parker (Tulalip), Chief Executive Officer of NABS, said in a statement. “The irreparable harm cannot be undone, but we as a country can begin to formally acknowledge the truth about what happened to hundreds of thousands of our Native people. That is the foundation for a future of healing that our boarding school survivors and their descendants deserve.

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These stories must be heard.

This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

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