Advocacy Action Signatures Needed

Support a Truth and Healing Commission for Indian Boarding Schools

Following this Sunday’s 10:00 am service, the Advocacy Action Committee will have letters for you to sign asking our local members of Congress to support the creation of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States (H.R. 5444/S. 2907). This commission will be dedicated to addressing the legacy of violence and abuse perpetrated by boarding schools in this country, including some run by the Episcopal Church, that removed Indigenous children from their families and forced them to participate in the boarding school system.

The initial findings, published in Volume 1 of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs investigative report, make it clear that the federal government must commit to reconciliation work regarding the boarding school policies. These policies were designed to advance the goals of cultural assimilation and territorial dispossession of Indigenous peoples through the forced removal and relocation of their children.  The DOI released this investigative report as part of its Boarding School Initiative that began in June of 2021.

Generations of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children were induced or compelled by the Federal Government to attend schools in the Federal Indian boarding school system where they were discouraged and often punished for using their languages or practicing their cultural or religious traditions. The report found that between 1819 and 1969, the United States operated or supported 408 boarding schools across 37 states (or then-territories) and it identified 53 burial sites for children across the system. Approximately 50 percent of these schools received support from a religious institution. The Episcopal Church was one of the organizations contracted by the DOI to operate boarding schools.

The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act will begin the work of healing intergenerational trauma and advancing efforts for racial reconciliation. If passed, the commission would include Native representatives and experts as well as an advisory committee and a survivors’ subcommittee. The Commission would be required to complete the following:

•             Formal investigations into the attempted termination of cultures, religions, and languages of Indigenous peoples

•             Formal investigations into the impacts and ongoing effects of historical and intergenerational trauma in Native communities

•             Culturally respectful public hearings for victims, survivors, and community members to testify and discuss the impacts of these policies

•             Recommendations for the federal government to acknowledge and heal the trauma related to the Indian Boarding School Policies

Advocacy Action will have a table in the courtyard or in the Gallery (if it rains) after the 10:00 am service, where you can sign letters to Senators Wyden and Merkley as well as Representatives Blumenauer and Bonamici. If you live in an area with different senators and/or representatives, please write to your members of Congress asking them to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act for the reasons listed above.

 To read the report, click on the link where it says Volume 1.