On November 14, 2023, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation granted unanimous approval to recommend that President Joe Biden and the 118th United States Congress support the endorsement of Senate Bill 1723 (S.1723): The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act.
“This critical step represents a commitment to acknowledging historical truths and promoting healing for survivors, descendants, and Tribal Nations,” said NABS Chief Executive Officer Deborah Parker (Tulalip). “Supporting S.1723 emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing the dark legacy of the Indian boarding school policy, clearing a path toward truth, healing, and justice.”
“The Advisory Council reaffirms our commitment to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people through our support of this proposed law, which would recognize the intergenerational trauma experienced by too many and would help us move toward healing,” said Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chair Sara C. Bronin. “Beyond this piece of legislation, we will continue to [work with federal agencies and other partners to] ensure that we recognize and honor the sovereignty of Tribal Nations and the knowledge and history of all Indigenous peoples through our policies and practices.”
“We are proud to support the healing of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian people by advising Congress and the President to support this important legislation. The path to healing is taken one step at a time. We are proud to play our part and help others along that path,” said Kashia Band of Pomo Indians Chairman and Indian Board Member for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Reno Keoni Franklin.
The Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act will create a 6-year commission that will inquire into the assimilative policies of the U.S. Indian Boarding Schools to examine or undertake the following:
● The location of Native children’s graves and locations of their burials,
● Document the ongoing impacts from boarding school eras and locate local, state, religious institutions, and private records of this era,
● Collect testimony from survivors, Tribal Nations, and subject matter experts,
● Create a commission and disseminate findings and recommendations for legislation and administrative actions to address the impacts of the Federal Indian boarding school policies, and,
● Investigate beyond the Department of Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, offering more comprehensive data and insights to better determine the number of human lives lost and impacted during this era.
Additionally, S.1723 advocates for the establishment of a resource center dedicated to gathering and safeguarding documents, records, and personal testimonies associated with Indian boarding schools. This center would serve as a valuable repository for researchers, educators, and future generations, offering insights into this somber chapter of history.
By supporting this legislation, we are taking a crucial step towards acknowledging and honoring Tribal sovereignty. Indigenous communities and people have the right to embark on a healing journey from the wounds of the past in a way that is meaningful and aligns with their cultural values.