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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The United Urban Warrior Society-California Chapter (UUWS-CC) is calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Truth and Healing Council to begin an immediate investigation of all California Indian boarding schools in the state of California.

This action comes on the heels of the discovery of over 1,400 graves at Indian residential schools in recent weeks and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland establishing the Federal Indian Boarding Schools Initiative.

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The UUWS-CC sent a letter to Gov. Newsom to request the investigation into any criminal activity that may have taken place at the Indian boarding schools in California.

“These crimes committed against California Native Children while forced and kidnapped to attend these California Native Boarding Schools must be acknowledged by the Christian Churches and their institutions that ran them and held accountable for the crimes they committed against our Children from 1850 to the 1960s,” Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney said in the letter.

The letter mentions Gov.Newsom’s apology he made to California tribal citizens on June 18, 2019 when the governor said “California must reckon with our dark history. California Native American people suffered violence, discrimination and exploitation sanctioned by state government throughout its history. We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.”

Gov. Newsom then established a Truth and Healing Council to provide Native Americans a platform to clarify the historical record and work collaboratively with the state to begin the healing process.

The recent news about discovery of the remains of students who attended the residential schools in Canada presents an opportunity for the Truth and Healing Council to do some meaningful work, according to Kinney.

The UUWS-CC wants California’s Truth and Healing Council to work with the Federal Indian Boarding School initiative that is charged with collecting and reviewing historical records including those at the American Indian Records Repository and the National Archives as well as school enrollment records, administrative reports, maps, photographs and other documents.

In California, three Indian boarding schools operated: Fort Bidwell School, Fort Bidwell; St. Boniface Indian School, Banning; and the Sherman Indian School, formerly Perris indian School, Riverside. There is a cemetery at the Sherman Indian School that holds the graves of students who died while attending the school. The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not return the student remains home to their families or tribes due to lack of money. 

Native American children were separated from their families under the 1819 the Indian Civilization Act. The goal was to force assimilation by erasing Indian culture by separating Indigenous children from their parents and sending them to boarding schools.

The UUWS-CC’s letter concludes:

“California Indian Country seeks justice for these innocent Children and to bring our children back to their home territories to be rejoined with their families.”

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