Working for Truth, Healing, and Justice for Boarding School Survivors and Descendants.
We stand with Secretary Deb Haaland in what has been an historic year for truth, justice, and healing from boarding schools. In this moment, we honor the generations of relatives who have fought and persisted in advocating for accountability.
We join our relatives in grief over the disturbing revelation from Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, indicating their possession of hair cuttings from hundreds of Native children who attended boarding schools between 1930 and 1933. We have learned that these materials consist of hair taken from nearly 700 children, most of whom have been documented with their names and Tribal affiliation.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) stands with our relatives today in hearing the apology of Pope Francis recognizing the role of the Catholic church in administering and enforcing Canada’s Indian Residential School system. The Pope’s visit comes seven years after the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission published their list of 94 calls to action, of which a papal apology is included.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) is thrilled to announce the hiring this month of four additional staff members to advance our work for truth, justice, and healing from Indian boarding schools. Following the recent appointment of Deborah Parker, tsicyaltsa, (Tulalip Tribes) to Chief Executive Officer, and Samuel Torres (Mexica/Nahua) to Deputy Chief Executive Officer, NABS’s new executive leadership is eager to expand the reach and depth of the Coalition’s work with the announcement of these critical additions to the team.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) supports the introduction of the bill for a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the U.S. Act. Today, we are honoring a National Day of Remembrance for U.S. Indian Boarding Schools and calling for a full accounting of the devastating impacts of the Indian boarding school policies that tore away generations of Native American children from their families and communities.
The truth about the US Indian boarding school policy has largely been written out of the history books, and we still don’t know how many students attended. Many have estimated that there were nearly 500 government-funded Indian boarding and day schools across the US in the 19th and 20th centuries, and NABS has identified 357 boarding schools alone. In boarding schools, Indian children were forcibly abducted by government agents, sent to schools hundreds of miles away, and beaten, starved, or otherwise abused when they spoke their native languages.
Truth. Healing. Justice. Reconciliation. These words carry different meaning for Americans today, depending on what side of history you hail from. If you’re Native American, you know that Justice in Indian Country cannot be fully realized without a major shift in our national narrative. Namely, that the U.S. has never accepted responsibility for its Boarding School experiment—the forced removal of our children, the prohibition of our language and culture, and the violation of our human, civil, and indigenous rights.