Below is a message from the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) that I am sharing with you for this week’s message. Last week I attended the screening of the film Home from School, the Children of Carlisle. The documentary was extremely moving along with some of the testimony that was shared afterwards by Arapaho people.  It will be airing on PBS in the future on Independent Lens, at a time not yet determined. Finally, we are hearing the truth which gives me hope that healing can come with our response of compassion, empathy, and reparation, not objectifying. A co-producer of the film, Jordan Dresser, also chair of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, noted in his concluding remarks after the film that churches also need to be taking responsibility for their role in this era.

“The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) would like to express deep gratitude for the leadership of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, whose announcement this week of a Department of Interior Federal Indian Boarding School Truth Initiative marks the first major federal investigation into the U.S. government’s Indian boarding school policy. NABS believes this investigation will provide critical resources to address the ongoing historical trauma of Indian boarding schools. Our organization has been pursuing truth, justice, and healing for boarding school survivors, descendants, and tribal communities.

“NABS continues to call for Congress to pass the “Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” and is working closely with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office to reintroduce the bill this summer. On Thursday, June 24, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, approved a resolution calling for a federal commission to build on the Department of Interior’s initiative. Both the Department of Interior’s initiative and the resolution from NCAI request that boarding school sites be examined to identify known and possible student burial sites and the number of children interred at these locations. 

“This federal initiative comes at a critical time when the discovery of our lost children in unmarked graves in Kamloops, Saskatchewan and other parts of Canada, as well as the repatriation of our children from Carlisle Indian Boarding School, is revealing the deep grieving and unhealed wounds of the boarding school era’s impacts on our families and relatives,” said NABS’s CEO, Christine Diindiisi McCleave (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe).

“NABS has identified 367 historically assimilative Indian boarding schools that operated in the U.S. between approximately 1870 until 1970. However, NABS has only been able to locate records from 38% of the boarding schools that we know of. Because the records have never been fully examined, it is still unknown how many Native American children attended, died, or went missing from Indian boarding schools. We believe that the time is now for truth and healing. We have a right to know what happened to the children who never returned home from Indian boarding schools.”  

We must do our part to pursue and promote truth-telling in our communities and our nation.

Fear not. Be bold. Build relationships. Be humble. Do justice.


Chesie Lee


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