Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report, May 2022, has just been released. The forced assimilation of Indigenous children has been a deep concern of mine. There is a long history regarding Quaker involvement in this. I hope Friends will be led to share what they know with their friends and neighbors. The general public knows little about this tragic history. For healing to begin, the truth must be told and acknowledged. The purpose of this post is to share some resources related to the Indian Boarding Schools in this country. (I don’t think it is right to call these institutions “schools”, but to search for information, that is how they were referred to in the past.)

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) says one thing we can do now is remind our members of Congress of their responsibility to tribal nations and urge them to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

What can be done to heal the damage done to native communities by colonists, including Quakers? As Paula Palmer shares, it begins with telling the truth.

And one of the best discussions related to Quakers and the Indian Boarding Schools is Quaker Indian Boarding Schools. Facing Our History and Ourselves by Paula Palmer, Friends Journal, October 1, 2016.

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition says that for healing to occur, the full truth about the boarding schools and the policy of forced assimilation must come to light in our country, as it has in Canada. The first step in a truth, reconciliation, and healing process, they say, is truth telling. A significant piece of the truth about the boarding schools is held by the Christian churches that collaborated with the federal government’s policy of forced assimilation. Quakers were among the strongest promoters of this policy and managed over 30 schools for Indian children, most of them boarding schools, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The coalition is urging the churches to research our roles during the boarding school era, contribute this research to the truth and reconciliation process, and ask ourselves what this history means to us today. 

Quaker Indian Boarding Schools. Facing Our History and Ourselves by Paula Palmer, Friends Journal, October 1, 2016

This is a link to the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative report

Following is a recent video from PBS NewsHour, of Judy Woodruff interviewing Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about forced assimilation.

Like Canada, America has a painful history of creating boarding schools to assimilate Native American children, leading to trauma, abuse and death. For more than 150 years, Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced into far away boarding schools. But now there’s a reckoning and a new federal investigation underway. Judy Woodruff discusses it with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.



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