Beyond Historical Trauma: Apology for Abuses at U.S. Indian Boarding Schools

Indian Boarding School Carlisle

In April of this year, Don Coyhis, leader of the Native American Wellbriety Movement, and I penned a communication to the field entitled Intergenerational Healing: Recognition, Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery. In that communication, we suggested that: 1) addiction in oppressed communities was fed by historical trauma and its residual remnants within contemporary life, and 2) the healing of historical trauma and its legacies involves distinct processes of personal and cultural renewal: Awakening and Collective Commitment; Mass Mobilization; Personal and Collective Mourning; Forgiving the Unforgivable; Achieving a New Harmony; Acts of Empowerment, Service, and Advocacy; Cultural Revitalization; and Acts of Celebration. These culturally indigenous processes must be accompanied by a reconstruction of the relationship between the oppressed group and the dominant culture. A central step in that process is for the dominant culture to fully acknowledge its historical actions and seek to make amends for these acts. The principle is one of restorative justice—healing the breach between wounding and wounded parties.

One of the darkest chapters in the history of the Indigenous Peoples of North America is that of the forced removal of Indian children from their homes and their internment in Indian Boarding Schools. The prolonged wounds wrought on the lives of Indian children, families, and tribes was a product of a policy whose explicit purpose was to: “Assimilate American Indian children into the American culture by placing them in institutions where they are forced to reject their own culture.” 

White Bison has launched a petition to ask the U.S. Government to offer a public apology for the Abuses at U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. The petition reads as follows:

We the People ask the Administration to give a public apology for the abuse of Native American children in US Indian boarding schools. We ask that our President take the next step in the Native American Apology Resolution S. J. RES. 14 Section I, which he signed on December 19, 2009. The US government funded 500 boarding schools for Native American children in order to integrate them into dominate culture. Children were taken away from their families and stripped of their identities and their cultures and were mentally, emotionally and physically abused. The trauma they faced has been passed down from generation to generation. This intergenerational trauma is directly connected as a cause for many social issues today. 

I encourage everyone to SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION for the Apology for Abuses at US Indian Boarding Schools before the August 27 deadline. 100,000 signatures are needed. Be sure to log into your email after signing to confirm, so your signature will count. You may sign the petition at the following link:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/apology-abuses-us-indian-boarding-schools

Please share this with your friends and colleagues so we can all be part of this healing process.