- By Jenna Kunze
Boarding school survivors and their descendants are invited to submit written testimony to the House Natural Resource Subcommittee for Indigenous People in support of legislation that would create a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools in the United States.
The legislation, called Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act, was originally introduced in 2020 by then-Congresswoman Deb Haaland, now the Secretary of the Interior Department. It was re-introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Congresswoman Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) (Ho-Chunk Nation) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) in Sept 2022.
The bill would establish a truth and healing commission to investigate the impacts and ongoing effects of the Indian boarding school policies. That commission would be tasked with developing recommendations on ways to: protect unmarked graves and accompanying land protections; support repatriation and identify the tribal nations from which children were taken; and discontinue the removal of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children from their families and tribal communities by state social service departments, foster care agencies, and adoption agencies.
The House Natural Resource Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples is holding a hearing on the legislation on Thursday, May 12. The Subcommittee is accepting written testimony from survivors and their descendants until May 26th.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), a respected agency dedicated to the work of Indian Boarding School truth and healing for over a decade—including advocating for a truth and reconciliation commission—encouraged via email on Monday any survivor willing to submit their personal story as a boarding school attendee, or their descendant.
“The House allows for written testimony until May 26, 2022. Therefore, we are humbly asking you to share your story by emailing the House Natural Resource Committee at: [email protected] and CC NABS at [email protected],” the email reads.
Those unfamiliar with the legislation can read the Native American Boarding School Health Coalition's one-pager that includes key provisions of the law, and information about why such a commission is necessary for Indian Country.
Testimony must be typed into a word document and submitted by emailing [email protected]. NABS created a draft template to follow for those looking for a place to start.
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