Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Three!

We are entering week 3 of NABS’s 7 Weeks of Action! We have been receiving positive feedback from your phone calls so please keep making these calls into the Congressional offices. This week we ask you to call into the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to ask them to schedule a markup for S.2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies Act.

NABS thanks you for joining us in this advocacy. Together we will get S.2907 /H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act passed!

Please CALL these Senators Today and Request The SCIA hold a markup session for “S. 2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” so the bill may move forward. 

“When we begin to cry, that’s part of the healing process. Our tears are meant to cleanse us, they’re meant to cleanse our spirit, our mind, and our body. When we cried as children, no one was there. We were left to cry alone. But today we have each other.”

SANDY WHITE HAWK (SICANGU LAKOTA), NABS BOARD PRESIDENT

Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week Two!

This is week 2 of Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations.
[See week 1 information here]

A fundamental principle of working with those experiencing injustice is to wait for that community to ask you for help. This Seven Weeks campaign is what Indigenous peoples are asking us to do.

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=411792764439084&set=a.317125480572480

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Join NABS in Week 2 of 7 Weeks of Action for 7 Generations, highlighting the need to pass H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act in the U.S.

Please CALL the Congressional Members listed today and request they bring “H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” to the floor for a vote in House and Pass H.R. 5444

 #NABS #Time4Justice

NOTE: Please include calls to those who don’t represent your Congressional district. They are making decisions that affect us all.


All of this may be news to you, but for Indigenous people, this report simply confirms painful truths their families have long known. Survivors left these institutions abused, in poor health and without the language and cultural knowledge to connect with the homes they returned to. The way these children were raised in boarding schools — with fear, shame, violence and servitude — was in complete conflict with the way their tribal communities would have raised them; with love, identity and purpose.  

In short, the pain of these survivors is the foundation of modern Indigenous life.  

This federal policy created generations of trauma that tribes continue to navigate as they reclaim everything these institutions tried to destroy. For every language learner, for every heirloom seed planted, for every newborn receiving a traditional name instead of an English one, there are people struggling with trauma, battling addiction and trying desperately to survive a world that doesn’t fit or understand them.  

Guest column: Pain of boarding school survivors is foundation of modern Indigenous life by Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock, The Oklahoman, July 8, 2022
(FCNL Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program)


This is a video my friend Rodger Routh made when he joined a few of us when we spoke to Senator Ernst’s staff recently. Besides making the phone calls listed above, you can request a meeting with the local staff of your representatives.

Preserving Subpoena Power

One September 1, I had a Skype meeting with Reid Willis in Senator Grassley’s Washington, DC, office. Reid was familiar with the history of Indian Boarding Schools. He told me Senator Grassley agreed with intent of S 2907 with two exceptions. Or, as a friend says, he doesn’t support it.

  • He feels the commission would duplicate work already being done by the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.
  • And particularly because he is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he doesn’t think that such a commission should have subpoena power.

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative lays the groundwork for continued work of the Interior Department.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

In June 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive effort to recognize the troubled legacy of federal Indian boarding school policies with the goal of addressing their intergenerational impact and to shed light on the traumas of the past.

The announcement directed the Department, under the leadership of Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland, to prepare a report detailing available historical records relating to federal Indian boarding schools and to develop the first official list of sites. On May 11, 2022, Secretary Haaland and Assistant Secretary Newland released Volume 1 of the investigative report. This report lays the groundwork for the continued work of the Interior Department to address the intergenerational trauma created by historical federal Indian boarding school policies. It reflects an extensive and first-ever inventory of federally operated schools, including profiles and maps.

Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative

I am pleased to release the first volume of the report, which represents the first attempt to produce a historical list of all Federal Indian boarding schools, to collect information about known and possible student burial sites, and to lay out a critical historical overview that sheds light on the damaging consequences of these policies and marks a path toward redressing their lasting consequences. A second volume will follow and will serve as a roadmap for continuing the compilation of records, in order to further efforts to heal the intergenerational trauma and associated economic, health, social, spiritual, and political impacts created by these failed policies.

Deb Halland,
Secretary of the Interior



https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.187/ee8.a33.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/2022-Truth-and-Healing-Commission-on-Indian-Boarding-School-Policies-Act-FINAL.pdf

Preserving Subpoena Power

One area of particular concern is whether the Truth and Healing Commission would have subpoena power. The bill, in its current form, allows for the commission to subpoena organizations involved in the operation of Native boarding schools. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that this would grant too much power to the investigation, outside of what is legally necessary.

Supporters of the bill, however, argue that without subpoena powers, the ability of the commission to conduct its investigation would be severely hindered.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

“I do believe there needs to be some requirement that any entity, including state governments and churches, who operated boarding schools and received Federal funding or support must make any relevant documentation available to the Commission,” said Kirk Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, during the Senate hearing.

The House Education and Labor Committee will consider the Truth and Healing bill next before it can go to the House floor for vote. This is a critical time for faith communities, Quaker meetings, and lawmakers in Congress to support the commission and uphold support for subpoena powers. Without access to records and documents, the commission cannot effectively bring justice to the countless victims and their families.

Lawmakers Make Progress on Native Boarding School Legislation by Seneca Ransom, Friends Committee on National Legislation, July 12, 2022


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

The Great Plains Action Society has published an “Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends”, which includes information about using FCNL’s letter writing templates for supporters of the bill to use to contact their representatives in Congress about this legislation.

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends, Great Plains Action Society


National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Week One of Seven: Help us bring justice, accountability, awareness, and healing by telling the unvarnished truth about America’s history and genocide committed against Indigenous Peoples by way of Federal Indian boarding school policies. NABS asks that you please call the U.S. House leadership and request “they bring forward HR. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission to the floor to vote on during November which is Native American Heritage Month.” #NABS#Time4Justice


Lobbying Senator Ernst’s staff about S. 2907

Running and activism

Yesterday I was moved by the stories of survivors of the Indian Boarding Schools. The stories were shared by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) during a two hour Zoom online seminar titled Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations, Week One! The purpose is to support the passage of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444)

I really related to the story told by Ku Stevens.

Kutoven “Ku” Stevens and his family organized a 50-mile run honoring the survivors and victims of the Stewart Indian School in Carson City over the weekend. He recently spoke to KUNR’s Gustavo Sagrero about the ultramarathon at his family’s home on the Yerington Paiute Reservation.

I’m able to represent my people, and one of the best ways I know how, which is through running. So to be able to combine two things that I’m very passionate about, which is running and activism for my people, I’m able to really make a difference and an impact in a way that I could see, in a way that other people can understand, and in a way that I feel like is reaching a lot of people’s hearts, which is ultimately what the goal is.

Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022

You were almost like … you were sent there to die.

Ku Stevens

Sagrero: The trauma of Indian boarding schools is just starting to get the national attention it deserves. What do you wish people understood more about this history?

Stevens: You were almost like … you were sent there to die. You know, the Native American in you was supposed to be killed or yourself; if you couldn’t conform to modern society, then you would die. These schools were built with graveyards in mind. They were built with the thought of having a cemetery on campus because they knew that kids would die. That’s not a school; that’s like a camp.

Sagrero: When you say camp, what do you mean?

Stevens: Like Nazi Germany, man. The roads and the building blocks that it took to make America what it is today are filled with the blood and bones of my people. And people need to understand that.

Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022


I relate to this story for several reasons. I, too, have always been a runner. I was on the track team in Junior High School, with one school record (OK, it was for the 440 yd relay). And at the Quaker boarding high school I attended, Scattergood Friends School, a few of us ran instead of playing soccer. We ran a path of gravel roads for five miles. I apologize for the description of Scattergood as a boarding school. Much different from the Indian boarding schools.

The reason running was activism for me is because that was one of my main modes of transportation, because I refused to own a car for environmental and spiritual reasons.

Most of these photos were taken during the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon. Mini means half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Which didn’t seem very “mini” to me. The Mini was part of the festivities each May related to the running of the Indianapolis 500 (auto) race. I ran the race every year for twenty-three years. I realize the irony of running being related to race cars.


Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations: Week 1

This afternoon the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) provided a two hour Zoom online seminar titled Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations, Week One! The purpose is for support and passage of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444)

As is nearly universally true for every American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian each of the speakers were affected by the residential schools. Nearly every speaker had times when they were so overcome with emotion that they had to pause what they were saying.

Each week for the next seven weeks a list of Congressional Representatives or Senators will be targeted for phone calls from us, asking the legislation to be brought out of committee for votes before the House and Senate.

National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

Week One of Seven: Help us bring justice, accountability, awareness, and healing by telling the unvarnished truth about America’s history and genocide committed against Indigenous Peoples by way of Federal Indian boarding school policies. NABS asks that you please call the U.S. House leadership and request “they bring forward HR. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission to the floor to vote on during November which is Native American Heritage Month.” #NABS#Time4Justice


I recently wrote about my friends at the Great Plains Action Society’s (GPAS) Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends. That describes how people can use the Friends Committee on Legislation’s (FCNL) online tools to help people write messages and send them to their representatives.

Reflections on Reflections

The First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March involved a group of about thirty native and non-native people walking, eating, and camping together for 8 days. We walked ninety-four miles from Des Moines to Fort Dodge Iowa, along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline during the first week of September 2018.

It was a bit amazing when I read the following as I’m reflecting on my experiences and friendships from the March.

Roughly a year later, in 2019, as part of my work at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning in Denendeh, I helped organize a solidarity gathering that took place in March, in the territory of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN). Our idea was simple—to invite a small group of Black, Brown and Indigenous activists, thinkers, writers, and organizers to spend time with us, in the spring, on an island in what the Yellowknives Dene known as Tindeè, or “big lake.” Together we fished nets under the ice, travelled by snowmobile and sleigh across the frozen lake, shared moose ribs cooked over the fire, stories from YKDFN Elders, our own ideas, and time with each other.

We wanted to invest in our relationship with each other and our affinities, outside of the institution, the internet, and crises, because we believed that the land would pull out a different set of conversations and gift us with a different way of relating. We wanted to sit together on the land, immersed in a Dene world, engage in a practice of Dene hospitality to see if we related to each other in a different way. This is exactly what happened. The land nurtured a set of conversations and way of relating to each other outside of the institution and its formations.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 35). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

In many ways the March was transformative for me. I wrote a long blog post of reflections on the March in early 2020. See: Reflections on the March.

The world, and I, have changed a lot in just the two years since those reflections were written. These two images represent the time span between the March and work we are doing today.


The first time I attended Quaker meeting after the March (2018), Russ Leckband gave me this piece of pottery, which was still warm from the kiln. The graphic on the right is about the Buffalo Rebellion, a climate justice summit, that I attended earlier this year.
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/?s=Buffalo+rebellion )

I suppose this blog post is more reflections on the prior reflections.
(As a photographer, I envision what that might look like)

Indy Art Jeff Kisling

Changes since the March in 2018

Environmental devastation and chaos are occurring much more rapidly than expected. In some ways not anticipated. The havoc from increasingly ferocious and frequent wildfires, violent storms, floods, and development of large areas of drought are overwhelming our social, economic, and political systems. Continued wars ruin or prevent the transport of vast quantities of agricultural products.

So many of the systems we used to depend on, we no longer can. Municipal services such as water, power, sewage, and trash processing will fail, are failing.  Food will no longer be available in grocery stores. Medical services will collapse. What will happen to those in prisons and long-term care facilities? Financial failures will wreck the economy and end social safety nets.

There are other compelling reasons to design and build new communities. Our economic system has not adapted to the loss of jobs overseas and to automation. There are simply not enough jobs for millions of people, and many of those who do have work are paid at poverty levels. Forced to depend upon increasingly diminishing social safety nets.

The judicial and law enforcement systems work with extreme bias against people of color. What will the response of militarized police, armed forces, armed militias be as social unrest escalates?


How do we respond? Some lessons learned from and since the March.

It is one thing to talk about change, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the reality of the changes described above. So, this is not an intellectual exercise.

Almost none of the White people I know, or have observed, are thinking of the radical changes necessary to deal with this evolving chaos. They are trapped in these failing systems and ways of being. Even those who recognize the many injustices of those systems.

For many reasons I believe our responses will be a return toward Indigenous ways and the sustainable ways of our ancestors.

White settler colonists must learn the true history, which was not taught to us. We can’t begin repair if we don’t know the underlying sources of injustice. We must stop treating the symptoms and instead focus on the causes, the underlying disease.

I FEEL THAT I NEED TO go backward in order to go forward. If we are going to find a way to make livable lives in these times, it is necessary to move beyond “human-related activities”: the climate crisis is tethered to its origins in slavery and colonialism, genocide and capitalism.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 25). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

I’ve been learning about the #LANDBACK movement, but I hadn’t consciously made the connection to the land we walked and slept upon during the March. We were deeply affected when we crossed the pipeline. And were aware of how different it was to spend hours outside and away from the busy-ness of technology. Many more hours than usual for many of us. And yet time had that elastic property that made hours seem like minutes and vice versa as we traveled through space together. Hearing stories of the past that can help us face the future.

Most of my White friends are horrified as they are learning more about the atrocities committed at the Indian boarding schools. Can hardly believe thousands of children died there. But they are being forced to as the remains of the children are being located.

White people cannot process these things and begin healing as long as they remain in the their White spaces and thinking. And deny any responsibility for what was done in the past.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

As William Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prolog”. Native children are still being taken from their families in the guise of child welfare. Native children are still forcefully assimilated when they are forced to read the White settler colonist view of history.

My involvement in Mutual Aid for the past two years has resulted in significant changes in my life. Changes that can be done now and help us move into the future. Another quote from the book Rehearsals for Living eloquently describes Mutual Aid.

My hope and prayer is a mass movement of us build Mutual Aid networks.

You and your relations, my friend, are (still) busy building a different world at the end of this one. This is something I’ve emphasized over and over again in my own work. I cherish the belief and practice that it is never enough to just critique the system and name our oppression. We also have to create the alternative, on the ground and in real time. In part, for me, because Nishnaabeg ethics and theory demand no less. In part because in Nishnaabeg thinking, knowledge is mobilized, generated, and shared by collectively doing. It’s more than that, though. There is an aspect of self-determination and ethical engagement in organizing to meet our peoples’ material needs. There is a collective emotional lift in doing something worthwhile for our peoples’ benefit, however short-lived that benefit might be. These spaces become intergenerational, diverse places of Indigenous joy, care and conversation, and these conversations can be affirming, naming, critiquing, as well as rejecting and pushing back against the current systems of oppression. This for me seems like the practice of movement-building that our respective radical practices have been engaged with for centuries.

Maynard, Robyn; Simpson, Leanne Betasamosake. Rehearsals for Living (Abolitionist Papers) (p. 39). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

Following is the latest version of a diagram I’ve been working on to visualize some of what I’ve expressed above.

Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

I am very happy that my friends of the Great Plains Action Society (GPAS) are asking their supporters to use the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s (FCNL) letter writing tool to send letters to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444) to their congressional representatives.


Open Letter Campaign: Truth and Healing with Friends

Support the Establishment of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools: Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

As children are returning to school, we are reminded that school has not always been a safe place for Native children. For many years, Native children were taken from their homes and placed in government and religious run institutions with the aim of stripping away their Native language, culture, and identity. We are only now beginning the painful process of bringing home the children left in unmarked graves at the boarding schools they were sent to (U.S. report identifies burial sites linked to boarding schools for Native Americans). We are still working on healing the damage of boarding school and intergenerational trauma (American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many : NPR). Healing from the damage caused by the boarding school system will require effort by not just those harmed, but the institutions that did the harming. There is great work being done by our comrades at the Friends Committee On National Legislation (Native Americans | Friends Committee On National Legislation). For this edition of our Open Letter Campaign, we are directing you to a letter from our friends at FCNL to help you in urging your representatives to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

The following is courtesy our much appreciated Quaker friends (esp Jeff!):

Truth and Healing Commission follow up

Here are some ways you can learn more about establishing a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools. And how you can add your voice to support this.

My friend Rodger Routh joined us to discuss this legislation with Senator Joni Ernst’s staff in Des Moines. And created this video to share with you about that visit.

Below that is a table of links to other articles I’ve written about this.

You can really help by using the letter template from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) that will help you write your own letter of support. And will deliver your letter to your legislators.

Video by Rodger Routh who also lobbyed with us

Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Act text
Practicing hope
Finding Accomplices, continued
Senator Ernst and Indian Boarding Schools Commission
Senator Grassley and Indian Boarding Schools Commission

Send your letter supporting the establishment of a truth and healing commission on Indian Boarding Schools using this template.

Support the Establishment of a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools

It is long overdue for the United States to acknowledge the historic trauma of the Indian boarding school era. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Christian churches collaborated with the government to create hundreds of boarding schools for Native American children. The conditions at these schools, some of them Quaker-run, were unspeakable.

Now we must work with tribal nations to advance congressional efforts to establish a federal commission to formally investigate boarding school policy and develop recommendations for the government to take further action. Although the wrongs committed at these institutions can never be made right, we can start the truth, healing, and reconciliation process for the families and communities affected as we work to right relationship with tribal nations.

Remind your 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).

Send your letter supporting the establishment of a truth and healing commission on Indian Boarding Schools.


https://mailchi.mp/nabshc.org/nabs-requesting-your-story-6167240?e=7a79e79445

7 Weeks of Action for 7 Generations! Uplifting S.2907/H.R.5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies Act

Please Join us on September, Tuesday 13, 2022 at 3pm ET, 2pm CT, 1pm MT, 12pm PT, 11am AK & 10am HI. To learn more about the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies and how to help get it passed.

You can learn more about the commission here:
www.boardingschoolhealing.org/truthcommission

To help us to provide more events like this, please donate as you are able:
https://boardingschoolhealing.org/about-us/donate/


Senator Ernst and Indian Boarding Schools Commission

Jeff Kisling, Jean and David Hansen and Rodger Routh. Photo credit Rodger Routh

This morning Jean and David Hansen, Rodger Routh and I met with John Hollinrake, Regional Director for Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst. Several others had planned to join us but didn’t make it.

We expressed our appreciation for Senator Ernst voting for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

I asked John if he was familiar with the Indian Boarding Schools. He indicated he had read the information I had sent from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in emails prior to this meeting. Some of the great support we received from FCNL

John listened attentively and took notes as we told our stories and why we hope Senator Ernst will cosponsor and vote for the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

I spoke of why this was important to me, in part because of Quaker involvement with the residential schools.

Jean spoke from her Indigenous background, sharing from family experiences at those schools. She also spoke about the work of Quakers in those times trying to influence those emerging policies.

David spoke of hearing stories of Quakers helping in the residential schools, presented as good work. Most Friends I know were told similar stories. Now that he has been learning the truth about these institutions of forced assimilation, and the intergenerational traumas that occurred, he wants people to know the truth, and work toward healing, which is the purpose of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act.

Rodger spoke of his Catholic upbringing, and the involvement of the Catholic church in many such schools in the lands called the U.S. and Canada.

John Hollinrake thanked us for coming but had no comment as to whether the Senator will co-sponsor the legislation. I followed up by emailing thanks to Mr. Hollinrake.

And submitted a Lobby Visit Report to FCNL.

We left the FCNL document “Co-sponsor the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the U.S. Act” with John.



We appreciated having these talking points from FCNL.



In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Christian churches collaborated with the government to create hundreds of boarding schools for Native American children. The conditions at these schools were unspeakable. Although the wrongs committed at these institutions can never be made right, we can start the truth, healing, and reconciliation process for all of us. The August congressional recess is an opportunity to educate your member of congress on the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. Join us for this special training to learn how you can ensure your voice is heard during August recess.


Finding Accomplices, Continued

One of the primary reasons I embarked upon this journey about the evolution of my foundational stories was to encourage people who hadn’t been much involved in justice work to change that.

  • Injustices abound. The victims should be supported while working to address the root causes of the injustice.
  • We should search our own lives to see if and how we are contributing to injustice.
  • Spiritual guidance often leads to justice work.
  • If others observe our Spirit guided work, they may join our Quaker communities.

It is discouraging to see attendance of our Quaker meeting diminish as Friends die or move away, and few new people join. Many Friends do justice work, but that is often unseen by people in the community. This is a time of great spiritual poverty, and Quaker meetings for worship could be what some seekers are looking for. For seekers to find us, we need to be seen in our communities. And doing justice work is a way for that to happen.

The reason I’m thinking about all this now is because a group of us will be meeting with Senator Ernst’s staff in Des Moines to talk about the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).
(See: https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/2022/08/29/practicing-hope/)

There is a web of interrelationships among Native and non-native peoples in the Midwest that presents opportunities to work together to learn and publish the truth about Indian Boardings Schools. There are parts of this that are only appropriate for each community to work on separately. But hopefully these Congressional visits will be the beginning of further work together.

This began with an appeal from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) for us to ask our Senators to support that legislation (S. 2907). And specifically, to do this during their current recess when they would be in Iowa.

I know my friend Sikowis Nobiss is interested in supporting legislation related to Native Americans, so I contacted her about this. She put me in touch with Jessica Engelking, who is also part of the Great Plains Action Society. Fortunately, I met Jessica when we were attending the Buffalo Rebellion conference recently. Some of the networking that occurred there. Others at that conference included my friends Peter Clay, Sikowis, Mahmud Fitil, Ronnie James, Miriam Kashia and Jake Grobe.

When Jessica asked what Quakers have been doing related to our role in some of the residential schools, I shared FCNL’s decades of advocacy for Native Americans. We began to work together to arrange visits to our Senators about the truth and healing commission act, and included Jessica Bahena, FCNL’s National Organizer, who is FCNL’s contact related to this legislation in our planning.

Over the past several years there have been changes in how I do justice work. What hasn’t changed is the I’ve tried to be obedient to what the Spirit is telling me to do.

Most of my life I did justice work within the framework of Quaker meetings, communities, and organizations, such as FCNL. For about 8 years I was clerk of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee. At our annual sessions a month ago, someone else took over that responsibility.

The Quaker involvement in the Indian Boarding Schools has long been a concern of mine. When I learned about this appeal from FCNL, I wanted to work on that. But no longer being on the Peace and Social Concerns Committee, I wasn’t thinking about working in the context of that committee, although I did contact the clerk of the committee in case they wanted to become involved.


Mutual Aid

For the past two years I’ve been working in the Des Moines Mutual Aid community. This has answered a deep need in my life to find accomplices who are doing justice work in a way that focuses on root causes of injustice and builds community. (See: Mutual Aid PDF)

I’d like to explore the possibility of Native Americans and White people working together on these traumatic problems. At first, I thought the Mutual Aid part would just be an interesting possibility to frame this work, but the more I think about it, the more important I think it could be, for making our work together avoid the problems of hierarchy, who’s in charge.

Mutual Aid

It is common to feel vulnerable when we meet new people, in new organizations and communities. But we need to venture out of our meetinghouses more often. I’ve been blessed to have found numerous communities to work with over the years. What follows are guidelines I’ve discovered that can help you as you begin to work with other communities or cultures.