For Immediate Release:
NABS Calls for Accountability in Response to the 215 Children Found Buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School
June 7, 2021—The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) grieves the finding of the mass graves at the Kamloops Indian residential school in Canada. Not only were 215 children lost to their families and relatives when they were taken by the government, but they also lost their lives. Their remains were then desecrated when the school and government dumped them in unmarked graves.
The tragedy at Kamloops is a painful reminder of the human rights violations that occurred at hundreds of Indian boarding schools run by the U.S. government and churches across the United States. What happened at these boarding schools are recurring soul wounds that cannot heal until we have truth and justice.
The U.S. Indian Boarding School Era was an integral part of a centuries-long systematic, genocidal campaign by the United States government to erase Native peoples, cultures, and civilizations. This effort centered around widespread violence and expropriation of indigenous lands, broke every treaty made with sovereign Tribal nations, prevented Tribal Nations’ participation in the United States’ political and economic processes, made Tribal religion and practices illegal, and forcibly separated Native families.
Thanks to the work of a team of NABS researchers over the years, we know there were at least 367 Indian boarding schools in this country. Many children were subject to physical and sexual abuse while at these institutions. How many children attended those schools, died, or went missing with remains unknown.
Despite the Coalition’s repeated inquiries, requests under the Freedom of Information Act, and collaborative efforts with the United Nations, the U.S. has never acknowledged its assimilative boarding school policies and refused to provide an accounting of the children that went missing and deaths that occurred at Indian boarding schools in this country.
In 2020, NABS worked with former Congresswoman Deb Haaland to introduce a bill for a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian boarding school policy in the U.S.; however, the bill died that session. We are currently working with legislators to reintroduce the bill this summer. It is time for this country to confront its genocidal past and provide answers for the relatives, families, and communities who are still dealing with intergenerational trauma from the boarding school era. The United States needs to create a Truth Commission on Indian Boarding Schools.
The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) was formed to develop and implement a national strategy that increases public awareness and cultivates healing for the intergenerational trauma experienced by individuals, families, communities, and American Indian and Alaska Native Nations resulting from the U.S. Indian Boarding School Policy.
Click here to see the full PDF of the statement
For Additional Resources:
NABS recognizes that this is a difficult time for all those impacted by the federal policy of Indian boarding schools. For those looking for additional resources, we invite you to explore the various materials on our website, including our recent webinar, “Indian Boarding School Cemeteries and Missing Children,” a panel discussion with Heather Whiteman Runs Him (Absaalooke), Marsha Small (Tsitsistas), Lauren Peters (Unangax̂), and Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Anishinaabe).
The work of building greater awareness and understanding is foundational to our work. Sadly, the U.S. is persistent in neglecting to address the history of Indian boarding schools. To date, only 6 states even mention Indian boarding schools in their state mandated content standards. In response, NABS has developed a curriculum that is free to download and is differentiated for three separate age groups. Click here to learn more about NABS curriculum resources.
We are eager to continue developing more resources, so be sure to sign up for e-news. And as always, the best way to hear about new offerings is to become a coalition member and to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn)