Support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act

The House Natural Resource Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples is accepting written testimony in support of H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act.

There are two ways you can send your written testimony for the bill. One is by using The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition’s resources. Secondly, information from the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is found at the end of this post. The FCNL site will help you write your letter and send it to the appropriate members of Congress.


The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

REQUESTING SUPPORTIVE WRITTEN TESTIMONY FOR H.R.5444

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) is currently pursuing the passage of H.R. 5444 / S. 2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the US Act. The House Natural Resource Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples held a hearing on Thursday, May 12, 2022, on H.R. 5444. We are reaching out to invite you to submit written testimony in support of this legislation. The House allows for written testimony until May 26, 2022. Therefore, we are humbly asking you to share your story by emailing the House Natural Resource Committee at:

HNRCDocs@mail.house.gov and CC NABS at info@nabshc.org 

To familiarize yourself with the legislation, NABS’s one pager can be found here, H.R. 5444/S.2907 the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. 
To submit testimony, please see NABS suggested draft template on how to write your story for Congress. It can be a minimum of two paragraphs up to 15 pages.
If you have any questions, please reach out to NABS at info@nabshc.org  
t’igwicid – Thank you, 

https://mailchi.mp/nabshc.org/nabs-requesting-your-story-6024016?e=039867b489

https://mcusercontent.com/a2409f90592cd87d4d9c47cad/files/0dd54e21-d6e2-e607-8bd1-dd35e41c0834/Outline_for_Testimony.01.pdf

Natural Resources Committee to Hold First Congressional Hearing on the Indian Boarding School Era

Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, May 12, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States will hold the first congressional hearing in history to examine the “Indian Boarding School Era,” the time period from 1819 to 1969 in which the U.S. government forcibly removed Indigenous children from their communities and placed them into government-run boarding schools to assimilate them into Euro-American society. At these schools, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students were forbidden to practice their culture, use their given names, or speak their traditional languages. If they disobeyed, they were harshly punished. Many students experienced physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, and some never returned home to their families. To this day, the United States government has never formally acknowledged or apologized for these actions.

The hearing will be livestreamed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFeCr0gDopU

The legislative hearing will consider H.R. 5444, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act, introduced by Rep. Sharice L. Davids (D-Kan.), which will establish a formal commission to investigate and document the policies of the Indian Boarding School Era. The commission will develop recommendations on how the U.S. government can best acknowledge and heal the intergenerational trauma associated with the era.

Natural Resources Committee, U.S. House of Representatives


Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

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.

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).

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)


It’s time to elevate Indigenous voices

As I was praying about what to write this morning, I was thinking about the title from an email from Grist magazine: It’s time to elevate Indigenous voices

It’s time to elevate Indigenous voices

It’s clear that Indigenous leaders and communities play a critical role in climate action and have already faced significant climate threats. Elevating Indigenous voices is key to staving off the climate crisis, and the news industry must do better.

Our reporting brings light to the challenges Indigenous communities face and grounds these stories through the lens of solution and justice by elevating the Indigenous leaders and ideas that are critical to protecting the planet’s biodiversity and the health of our ecosystems

Donate now

Grist

Although there is colonialism in the idea that it is White people’s privilege to frame these narratives, it is important to make White people aware of the importance of elevating Indigenous voices.

White people cannot begin to have authentic relationships with Indigenous peoples until we have learned and acknowledged the truth about the history of White settler colonists stealing the land and committing genocide against native peoples. And the continued oppression today. To understand the trauma that has been passed from generation to generation. The grief of those living today.

I was blessed to participate in the Climate Justice Summit of the new coalition, the Buffalo Rebellion. A coalition that has leadership from Indigenous people and that is elevating Indigenous voices.

Buffalo Rebellion is a coalition of Iowa grassroots organizations that are growing a movement for climate action that centers racial and economic justice!

Formed in 2021, Buffalo Rebellion is comprised of seven Iowa organizations: Great Plains Action Society, DSM Black Liberation Movement, Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice, Sierra Club Beyond Coal, Cedar Rapids Sunrise Movement, SEIU Local 199, and Iowa CCI


Forced assimilation of native children

One of the most grievous wrongs was the forced assimilation of native children. [https://quakersandreligioussocialism.com/forced-assimilation/]

  • This is a fraught issue in Quaker communities today. More than 30 Indian boarding schools were run by Quakers.
  • The first step toward healing for all those involved, White and Indigenous peoples, is truth telling.
  • Raw emotions are re-awakened as the process of locating the remains of native children on the grounds of Indian boarding schools occurs at more schools.
  • The first volume of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report has just been released.

Urge your members of Congress to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (S. 2908/H.R. 5444).


It’s past time for the United States and the faith community to acknowledge the historical trauma of the Indian boarding school era.

I know that. You know that. And this week, we received two strong signs that lawmakers are starting to understand it too.

Act Now

On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior released an investigative report documenting the brutal conditions endured by Native children who were forced to attend federal boarding schools. The next day, a House subcommittee held the first-ever hearing on this critical issue.

The impacts of this tragic era persist today. These schools—more than 30 of them run by Quakers—are inextricably linked to the loss of tribal languages, cultural resources, and dispossession of land. Many of the problems facing tribal nations today, including poverty, violence, suicide, and alcohol and drug abuse, are rooted in the traumatic separation of children from their families and the abuses at these federally sponsored institutions.

Your advocacy is making a difference. We have to keep the pressure on. Urge your members of Congress to support the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (S. 2908/H.R. 5444).

Portia Kay^nthos Skenandore-WheelockSincerely, Portia K. Skenandore-Wheelock Congressional Advocate
Native American Advocacy Program

P.S. Read the Department of Interior report here.


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.

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


Acknowledging the Trauma of Indian Boarding Schools

Letter Writing May: Acknowledging the Trauma of Indian Boarding Schools

From the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

“Native organizations are not asking us to judge our Quaker ancestors. They are asking, ‘Who are Friends today? Knowing what we know now, will Quakers join us in honest dialogue? Will they acknowledge the harm that was done? Will they seek ways to contribute toward healing processes that are desperately needed in Native communities?’” – Paula Palmer, Friends Journal

It is long overdue for our country to acknowledge the trauma inflicted by Indian Boarding Schools in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Christian churches often collaborated with the government to create hundreds of these schools around the country with the goal of assimilating Native children into white society. Quakers were among the religious bodies that ran these boarding schools, causing unspeakable harm to Native children and communities. 

Today, Congress can pass legislation that would begin to seek truth and healing for the Native communities that are still affected by this trauma. Friends today are working with tribal nations to advance this congressional effort to formally investigate boarding school policy and develop recommendations for future action.

Act Now!
Urge your members of Congress to support and co-sponsor the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444).

Download the Letter

Increasingly, more members of Congress are signing on to co-sponsor this legislation. Your voices are vital in continuing the momentum to push this effort forward. While the wrongs committed at these boarding schools can never be made right, this truth and healing commission can begin a process of working to right the relationship with tribal nations.

Please act using the accompanying letter template, call script, and this email template. Add 2‐4 sentences letting your legislator know why you are personally concerned.

Then, call Congress at 202‐224‐3121 and ask to be connected to your representative’s and senators’ offices. Leave a message if they do not pick up or if you are calling after office hours.

I also hope you will join FCNL’s Quaker Changemaker event on May 25 at 6:30 p.m. EDT, “Seeking Truth, Healing, and Right Relationship: Quakers and the Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools.”

Your letters, emails, and phone calls to Congress matter now more than ever.

We ask Friends to continue contacting their elected officials using our materials. Please share this call to action with your community email lists and organize virtual gatherings for collective advocacy. 

Learn more and get training from FCNL staff at fcnl.org/lobbyfromhome.
Emma Hulbert
In peace, Emma Hulbert Program Assistant
Quaker Outreach

FCNL Native American updates

Following are Native American updates from the Friends Committee on Legislation (FCNL).

Seeking Truth, Healing, and Right Relationship: Quakers and the Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools
MAY 25, 2022, 5:30 – 6:30 PM Central, ONLINE

FCNL and Friends advocate in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. Yet, historically, Quakers played a role in colonization and the cultural genocide of Native people through the operation of more than 30 Indian boarding schools. With legislation now before Congress to investigate the legacy of Indian boarding schools, how are Friends communities engaging to address Quaker complicity in these atrocities?

Join us on Weds. May 25 at 6:30 p.m. EDT to learn how FCNL and F/friends are reckoning with this history and advocating in solidarity with Native communities.

In conversation with Paula Palmer and Jerilyn DeCoteau, FCNL’s Congressional Advocate for Native American Advocacy Portia Kay^nthos Skenandore-Wheelock will discuss FCNL’s work to build support for the bipartisan Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444). Paula and Jerilyn will share from their expertise and experience co-directing Towards Right Relationship with Native Peoples with Friends Peace Teams. Director of Quaker Leadership Alicia McBride will moderate the conversation.


Reauthorize FVPSA with Critical Support for Tribal Domestic Violence Programs

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act (FVPSA) is the primary federal grant program for domestic violence shelter and supportive services. This is especially significant for tribal communities, which deal with domestic and sexual violence at unparalleled rates. 

FVPSA will help all tribes provide culturally appropriate and life-saving prevention and treatment resources for their citizens by funding domestic violence programs, shelters, hotlines, resource centers in Alaska and Hawaii, and tribal coalitions. In short, FVPSA is a key piece of legislation to address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.

The House passed their bill (H.R. 2119) in October 2021, but the Senate has yet to vote on their version (S. 1275).

Remind your senators of their responsibility to tribal nations and urge them to pass the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act.


Historic Funding for Tribal Nations in FY 2023 Budget Proposal

For the first time in history, the president’s budget process included direct consultations with tribal nations. As a result, President Joe Biden’s FY 2023 budget proposal includes increased funding for tribal nations and programs. Notably, it would also significantly invest in the stabilization of the entire tribal healthcare system.

By recategorizing Indian Health Service (IHS) funding as mandatory rather than discretionary spending, IHS funding would automatically keep pace with increasing healthcare costs and population growth. This change would gradually close longstanding shortfalls, address backlogs and inequities, and modernize record systems. The budget proposal recommends $9.1 billion in mandatory funding for tribal healthcare.

“This proposal is a historic step forward towards securing adequate, stable, and predictable funding to improve the overall health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said IHS Acting Director Elizabeth Fowler. “It also ensures we never repeat the disproportionate impacts experienced during the pandemic…and acknowledges the need to implement long-term solutions to address IHS funding challenges, which contribute to the stark health disparities faced by American Indian and Alaska Native people.”

Other wins in the budget proposal include increased funding for tribal programs in general, Violence Against Women Act programs, and the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative.


Interior Department Reverses Nearly 50 Year Obstacle to Tribal Water Rights

On April 7, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland reversed the Morton Moratorium, a 1975 memorandum directing the Bureau of Indian Affairs to disapprove tribal regulation of water use on reservations. With this change, tribes requiring secretarial approval of tribal water codes will be able to better regulate and protect waters on tribal lands.

“If we are to truly support tribal self-determination, we cannot be afraid to review and correct actions of the past that were designed to create obstacles for tribal nations,” said Haaland. The Interior Department will hold tribal consultations for guidance on an improved review process for tribal water codes.


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