Form a Truth and Healing Commission Now!
After the continued findings of mass graves of Indigenous children at boarding schools, it’s long past past time to confront the genocide of Indigenous People on Turtle Island. Tell the Biden administration and congressional committees to form and empower a Truth and Healing Commission today.
The tragic discoveries of mass graves full of Indigenous children at boarding school campuses shocked Americans and Canadians alike — but this news did not surprise any Indigenous person on Turtle Island. The history of boarding and residential schools is a well-known horror in these communities. Generations have suffered and continue to suffer the fallout of this criminal legacy.
Therefore I ask today that the United States government take immediate corrective action to address its own genocidal history. I call upon the Biden administration, the House Subcommittee of the Indigenous People of the United States and the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to immediately spearhead the formation of a Truth and Healing Commission empowered to confront the scope of this tragedy head-on.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland's creation of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative is a wonderful start, and we applaud Secretary Haaland for taking action on behalf of her Indigenous relatives. But we need a true reckoning, and any agency must be empowered to find the hard answers.
The proposed Commission — or Secretary Haaland's Initiative — must be given the authority to conduct a full audit of all Indian boarding schools within the U.S. and any relevant associated properties. We demand that government agencies, churches, property owners, and faith-based organizations prioritize cooperation with these efforts to help ensure they are comprehensive and fully effective.
Until America confronts its own history and continued use of colonial tools of oppression, these discoveries will continue to be made. Communities will continue to grieve and America will continue to skirt responsibility for its violent history — and current practices — of colonialism and resulting genocides.
America was founded on documents which granted legal immunity and bestowed moral imperatives to conquer and “civilize” the Original People of Turtle Island. These documents, issued as papal bulls from the Vatican and known as the Doctrine of Discovery, authorized and encouraged the violent origins of America. By 1860, with the opening of the first Indian boarding school, America was simply updating ancient methods of colonization to continue acting with impunity and violent arrogance. The latest evidence discovered of genocide, murder, and violence underlines the horror resultant from the Doctrine, which is still being used as a tool of disenfranchisement and oppression in today’s court systems.
America cannot hide from the ramifications of its own history. With the closure of our last Indian Boarding school in 1978, Americans must understand that this is living history, not some historical footnote. People and communities are still suffering. Let this tragic discovery in Canada be the wake up call that America needs. Please use your authority as members of the executive and legislative branches to begin blazing a new kind of trail. Form a Truth and Healing Commission — and vest it with the authority to begin addressing this nation’s long history of violence and oppression toward Native communities.