Boarding School Apology Initiative
A Message from Don Coyhis
Much has happened to Native American people over the last 500 years. Our loss has been great and the pain that remains for us as the result of these happenings is even greater.
In 2009, White Bison made a 7000-mile journey across the United States, visiting 24 boarding school sites and recording the stories of the Elders who attended these schools. The stories were unbelievable. We now know that what was done to the children in these boarding schools is directly tied to the social issues we are currently experiencing in our communities. We call this Intergenerational Trauma. The Elders told us we would not be free from this trauma unless we could forgive the unforgivable. The name of the 7000-mile journey was the Journey of Forgiveness. We were told that our last test will be forgiveness. We were also given a Four Directions teaching…Recognize, Acknowledge, Forgive, and Change. We need to recognize what the trauma is, acknowledge that it happened, then forgive and change.
The Wellbriety Movement is over 20 years old and we have developed a number of culture-based trainings. What is surfacing all over our Turtle Island is the issue of Historical Trauma. The acknowledgement from the United States Government of its role in sponsoring the boarding schools will make our healing accelerate. There is now a law signed by President Obama in 2009 that acknowledges the need for a public apology (H.R. 3326, Section 8113).
It is time we take our voice back as Native people. We need to continue the deep healing we have been going through so can we break the cycle of addiction. We cannot sit back in silence and pain. If the apology from the President of the United States is going to happen, we, the grassroots, must make it happen. It will not happen until we make our voices heard..
Therefore, we have laid out a strategy to coincide with the National elections.
- We flood the offices of our Representatives and Congress asking for their support,
- We ask our Tribal Councils and other national organizations to pass resolutions of support for the apology and send these resolutions to the White House or to White Bison. We will get them where they need to go,
- We send mass e mails to the White House asking for the apology to happen,
- We sign the apology petition available on the White Bison website (we have over 6000 signatures of support so far).
- We ask our friends from the Four Directions to support this effort.
The instructions on how to do this are also available on the White Bison web site.
If it is meant to be, it is up to us, the grassroots, to make our voices heard at last. We need to take a stand so our children and grandchildren won’t need to experience what most of us have suffered as a result of the boarding schools. We are asking for your help in getting out this message.
President, White Bison, Inc.
Did you know that President Obama signed into law an Apology to Native Peoples of the United States on December 19, 2009? This Apology was attached to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 as Section 8113 of the Act (H.R. 3326) and it has not seen the light of day since December, 2009. It has been buried in this Act and was never properly presented to Native Americans and to the American People.
This Apology was crafted, championed and fought for by Senator Sam Brownback (R., Kansas) and Congressman Dan Boren (D., Oklahoma) starting in the mid 2000’s. Their work finally became the Bill that was signed into Law by the President in December, 2009.
We know that the governments of both Canada and Australia separately made a formal and public Apology to their Native or Aboriginal peoples in 2008. We also know that very recently, on October 1, 2010, the U.S. Government apologized to the country of Guatemala for wrongs done to the Guatemalan people by the U.S. between 1946 and 1948.
What about Native Americans? We feel very strongly that it is now our time to receive a formal, public and visible apology for the many hurts done to Native people in our historic past.
It says in Point # 3 of the official Apology issued in December, 2009 the following:
“The United States, acting through Congress, (3) recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes.”
The boarding schools and the entire Boarding School Era is one of those “ill-conceived policies” that has left us with both the Historic and Intergenerational Trauma that is still with us as Indian people today. Receiving the Apology will help us grieve for what was lost so that we may finally heal and prosper as American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian people.
Now YOU can help have this Apology presented publicly to Native people by writing to your Senator and Congress persons. We have created a form letter that you may send online by e mail to your Senator or Congress person. We have also produced a sheet of instructions about how you may do this right from your computer, right now. We have also copied the entire text of H.R. 3326, Section 8113, which is the Apology, for you to read.
Please download all three documents and send the form letter to your Senators and Congress person so that we, as Native Americans, may finally receive the Justice of this Apology.
When you send the form letter to your Senator or Congress person would you do the following?
Send an e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address and phone number. In the subject line place these words: Letter Sent.
This will help us keep track of the number of letters urging the Apology to become public. Thank you!