Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies

Yesterday, the National Day of Remembrance for for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Sharice Davids, and Congressman Tom Cole introduced a bipartisan bill for a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the U.S. Act

This has the potential to be a Very Big Deal for indigenous people and communities across the United States. 

The goal is to create a “complete picture of the ongoing impact Indian boarding schools have had on generations of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people… critical to providing a path toward healing for individuals, families and Tribal communities that have endured the devastating consequences of Indian boarding school policies.”

Here on this reservation, as in Native communities across the continent, the effects of residential boarding schools (which were established by the US government as part of a documented effort to exterminate Native peoples) continue to be significant. Research on historical trauma is linking the experiences of people one, two, three or more generations ago … to the current realities of poverty, mental illness, social dysfunction, and chronic medical illness across Native communities today. 

This whole idea of “historical trauma” actually originated with the realization that families of survivors of the Nazi genocide, and their generations going forward, deal with mental, social, and even physical health issues linked to the experiences generations ago. Researchers then noticed that the historical trauma of African American families has had a similar impact on the generations AFTER slavery. As recently as the 1990s, this research was expanded to examine the current realities of Indigenous peoples across the continent (Canada and US) and, yep, the same links, including to genetic changes, are evidenced.

In a very real way, we are children of our historical past. If that past included genocide, systemic violence and oppression, the historical past presses upon the present and creates very real and very severe effects. 

I see those every single day. 

Because of that, I see the very clear need for truth and healing, truth and reconciliation. Click here if you’d like to learn more. Click here for a download with explanations of what “truth and healing” could look like.