Last week, NABS attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, 16th Session. We read a statement in conjunction with our Coalition member, the International Indian Treaty Council, to request action on the U.S. Boarding School Policy of 1869.
Similar to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s investigation into the residential schools, we would like to U.S. to acknowledge its child removal and forced assimilation policy for American Indian and Alaskan Native children. Countries such as Canada and Australia modeled their boarding schools after the U.S. policy. However, Canada and Australia have admitted, apologized, and made reparations for their actions whereas the U.S. has not.
The Boarding School Healing Coalition was created to address the inter-generational trauma and harm done by the boarding schools, such as loss of language and culture. Article 8 of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states we have “the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of our culture.” The U.S. needs to address this violation of our rights.
In Canada, they found over 6,000 children who had died and gone missing while in state custody at these schools. How many died and went missing in the U.S? The fate of many of these children is yet unknown. We deserve to know. We demand to know.
The grief and suffering of thousands of families have resulted in many tears and prayers for justice, resolution, and healing. The formation and work of the Boarding School Healing Coalition is a result of those prayers. Please join with us to continue praying, in whatever ways are culturally appropriate for you, to move this healing work forward.
Read the full UN statement. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will make its recommendations by the end of the session and we will keep you posted on our advocacy work in this area.
Chi miigwech (thank you)