Bill Aims to Address Trauma From Native American Boarding Schools

Medscape Staff

October 11, 2021

A bill to establish an American Indian Truth and Healing Commission on Native American boarding schools was recently reintroduced in the Senate and House of Representatives. How does it aim to acknowledge the past?

What to know:

  • The commission would formally investigate the impact of the trauma that resulted from attendance at boarding schools for Native American children that were run or funded by the federal government from the 1870s to the 1960s.

  • It would also call for federal support to address cultural and linguistic destruction to tribal communities.

  • It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of children were sent to the boarding schools, some of whom were kidnapped from their homes. They were forced to give up their languages and cultures to learn English and practice Christianity.

  • According to David R. M. Beck, professor of Native American studies at the University of Montana, the question now is what acknowledging the past and embracing the future look like.

  • Some of this work is already happening within Native American communities: the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition is creating a digital archive of records from the boarding schools, and the National Coalition of Native American Language Schools and Programs supports local efforts to revitalize Indigenous languages.

This is a summary of the article "Truth and Healing Commission Could Help Native American Communities Traumatized by Government-Run Boarding Schools That Tried to Destroy Indian Culture," published by The Conversation on October 8, 2021. The full article can be found on theconversation.com.

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