The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) is calling on tribal leaders to support the reintroduction of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act.
During the previous Congressional session, the bill received broad support from various Tribal Nations, Tribal regional organizations, the International Indian Treaty Council, and national Native organizations, including the NCAI. The bill had 26 co-sponsors in the Senate and 86 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.
Deborah Parker (Tulalip), CEO of NABS, spoke at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Executive Council Winter Session on Wednesday, emphasizing the urgent need to act now.
“If we’re going to get this done, the time is now. We owe it to ourselves, our Tribal Nations, boarding school survivors, and especially our future generations. We must vow to do better,” said Parker.
NABS is advocating for the bill’s reintroduction into the 118th Congress. The bill seeks to investigate the assimilative policies of U.S. Indian boarding schools fully.
It aims to collect testimony from boarding school survivors, Tribes, and subject matter experts. Additionally, the bill would create a findings and recommendations report, identifying legislative and administrative actions to address the impacts of U.S. Indian boarding schools.
The bill would also compel investigation beyond the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and review records from churches and educational institutions that operated Indian boarding schools.
NCAI President Fawn Sharp (Quinault) highlighted the importance of acknowledging the atrocities committed in boarding schools during her State of Indian Nations Address on Tuesday. “As our investigations continue to uncover the atrocities perpetrated in boarding schools in North America, we need to prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually to confront the full pain of that history. We must seek out the facts, and own them, so that we can eventually clear the path to an era of truth, healing, and empowerment,” said Sharp.
As the Native Healing Coalition seeks support for the legislation, tribal leaders and organizations must acknowledge the importance of confronting the atrocities of the past to pave the way for healing and empowerment for future generations.