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Native American Boarding Schools

The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) expressed deep gratitude for the leadership of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who announced on June 22, 2021 the Department of Interior Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative. This marks the first major federal investigation into the U.S. government’s Indian boarding school policy. NABS believes this investigation will provide critical resources to address the ongoing historical trauma of Indian boarding schools. 

The NABS has been pursuing truth, justice, and healing for boarding school survivors, descendants, and tribal communities and continues to call for Congress to pass the “Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act”. NABS is working closely with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office to reintroduce the bill this summer. On June 24, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, approved a resolution calling for a federal commission to build on the Department of Interior’s initiative. Both the Department of Interior’s initiative and the resolution from NCAI request that boarding school sites be examined to identify known and possible student burial sites and the number of children interred at these locations. 

“This federal initiative comes at a critical time when the discovery of our lost children in unmarked graves in Kamloops, Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, as well as the repatriation of our children from Carlisle Indian Boarding School, is revealing the deep grieving and unhealed wounds of the boarding school era’s impacts on our families and relatives,” said NABS’s CEO, Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe).

NABS has identified 367 historically assimilative Indian boarding schools that operated in the U.S. between approximately 1870 until 1970. However, NABS has only been able to locate records from 38% of the boarding schools that we know of. Because the records have never been fully examined, it is still unknown how many Native American children attended, died, or went missing from Indian boarding schools. We believe that the time is now for truth and healing. We have a right to know what happened to the children who never returned home from Indian boarding schools. 

For more information, go to: https://boardingschoolhealing.org

Submitted: Jean Schafer

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