Indian Affairs Committee Passes Federal Indian Boarding Schools Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Committee, led Committee passage of S.1723, a bill to establish the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States, and for other purposes. The Committee held a legislative hearing on an identical bill last year.

“For over a century, the federal government knowingly perpetuated violence and trauma with the goal of assimilating Native children by destroying family and communal bonds, their languages, their cultures, and their very identities,” said Chairman Schatz. “The impacts of this shameful history are felt by survivors and their descendants to this day. Without the guidance and support of Native communities across the country on this important bill, a culturally respectful and meaningful path to truth and healing would not be possible.”

“Today, the Indian Affairs Committee took a monumental step towards addressing the dark legacy of the United States federal Indian boarding school policies and their impact on Native peoples and communities,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “This commission will help document what happened and then develop recommendations on how to heal from these harms. I commend the work of the committee staff and members for their efforts to address the calls for justice by advocates while making bipartisan improvements to the bill. I look forward to advancing it through the Senate.”

“The federal government’s Indian Boarding School Policies caused unimaginable suffering and trauma that linger on in tribal communities today, and it is long overdue that the federal government fully reckon with this history and its legacy,” said Senator Warren. “I am glad that my Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act was unanimously reported out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee today. I look forward to the Senate further advancing this important bill.”

“We are grateful to Senator Warren for reintroducing this bill and to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for working with us to make it even stronger,” said Deborah Parker (CEO), CEO of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. “The leadership from Senator Schatz and Senator Murkowski has been crucial in making this historic bill bipartisan.”

The Committee passed the bill with amendments reflecting feedback from over 100 survivors, descendants, tribal leaders, advocates, churches, local governments, and experts, who provided testimony for the record following last year’s hearing.