Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3), and Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4) reintroduced a bill to create a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States. It is way past time that the United States and the faith community acknowledge the historic trauma of the Indian boarding school era. Now is the time for us to raise our voices and work with tribal nations to get this legislation passed into law.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Christian churches collaborated with the government to create hundreds of boarding schools to take Native children from their families and rob them of their cultures. These schools are inextricably linked to loss of tribal languages and cultural resources, and contribute to the ongoing intergenerational trauma in Native communities today.
This bill seeks healing for stolen Native children and their communities by establishing the first formal commission in U.S. history to investigate and document the unconscionable practices and human rights violations that occurred at these institutions.
Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to co-sponsor the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).
Call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your members of Congress.
You might say something like this:
I am [NAME] and I live [CITY/TOWN] and as a constituent and a Catholic sister [or person of faith], I welcome the introduction of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444) and urge you to support this important legislation.
In the 19th and 20th Centuries, U.S. federal boarding school policy sought to assimilate more than 100,000 Native children into white American culture at 367 boarding and day schools. The traumatic separation of Native children from their families, identity, traditions, and spiritual beliefs was often coupled with psychological and physical abuse administered at these institutions. Heartbreakingly, many of these children never returned home.
The faith community has begun acknowledging our complicity in the historic trauma of the boarding school era and is committed to locating, cataloguing, and sharing boarding school records with the commission and the public as part of the truth-telling process. Given the government’s central role in boarding school policy, I call on you to join this important work.
The impact of federal boarding school policy is still felt today. Loss of indigenous languages and cultures, injury to tribal governance and sovereignty, and high poverty, poor health, and growing suicide rates continue to harm tribal communities across the country. The establishment of the commission is an important first step in starting the truth, healing, and reconciliation process for all of us.
Can I count on [SENATOR’S NAME/REPRESENTATIVE’S NAME] to co-sponsor the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act and encourage your colleagues in Congress to do the same?