Support to Create a Commission on American Indian Boarding School Policy

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 TITLE: Support to Create a Commission on American Indian Boarding School Policy

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, beginning with the Indian Civilization Act Fund of March 3, 1819 and the Peace Policy of 1869 the United States, in concert with and at the urging of several denominations of the Christian Church, adopted an Indian Boarding School Policy; and

WHEREAS, the Indian Boarding School Policy was expressly intended to implement cultural genocide through the removal and reprogramming of Native American children to accomplish the systematic destruction of indigenous cultures and communities; and

WHEREAS, between 1869 and the 1960s as many as 100,000 Native American children were removed from their homes and families and placed in Boarding Schools operated by the federal government and the churches; and

WHEREAS, Native children that were voluntarily or forcibly removed from their homes, families, and communities during this time were taken to schools far away where they were punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional or cultural practices, stripped of traditional clothing, hair and personal belongings and behaviors reflective of their native culture, and abused and neglected by inadequate and hostile staff who were primarily non-Native; and

WHEREAS, the prevailing attitudes of the time allowed neglect and abuse of children who were overseen, but not parented, bullied and assaulted, not only by the adults but by older children under the modeling and instruction of the caretakers and staff, and neglected en masse; and

WHEREAS, many of the children placed in these schools observed and suffered physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse, were punished by physical restraints, beatings and isolation in inhospitable surroundings, such as unlighted cellars, and unlighted and unventilated outbuildings designed as jails; and

WHEREAS, these children, their children and now their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, have become the legacy of the boarding schools and the federal policy that established and sustained them, where the trauma they suffered has gone unrecognized and unresolved; and

WHEREAS, it has been established that the trauma experienced by those who were abused and neglected in these schools during this period has passed onto each subsequent generation where this historical and inter-generational trauma continues to effect and devastate Native American individuals, families, and communities; and

WHEREAS, neither the United States nor any national denomination of the Christian Churches in the United States has offered to provide any reparations for the generations of harm caused by the deliberate imposition of the policy of cultural genocide on the Native American children, families, communities, tribes, Pueblos or Alaskan Villages; and

WHEREAS, the facts and history about the pervasive harm caused and continuing to be caused by the trauma and continuing historical and intergenerational trauma attributable to the Boarding School Policy are poorly understood by the American public, the Congress and the Executive Branch of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, a comprehensive national study of the history of the policy, complete documentation of the fate of the students and the events that took place at each of the schools, gathering of testimony from those that suffered from abuse, neglect or other trauma and its effects on those individuals, families and communities is necessary to support recommendations to Congress based on the evidence gathered from them and experts on inter-generational trauma concerning the nature of the harms and potential paradigms for healing and reconciliation; and

WHEREAS, similar events in the past have been successfully addressed through Congressional authorization of a Commission to study and report on the issue; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby support the enactment of a bill by the United States Congress to create a Commission on American Indian Boarding School Policy (substantially in the nature of the example Commission attached to this resolution as Attachment A).

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.