Attorney: Brett Lee Shelton
Native American children were forcibly abducted from their homes and put into Christian and government run boarding schools beginning in the mid 1800’s and continuing into the 1950’s. This was done pursuant to a federal policy designed to “civilize” Indians and to stamp out Native cultures; a deliberate policy of ethnocide and cultural genocide. Cut off from their families and culture, the children were punished for speaking their Native languages, banned from conducting traditional or cultural practices, shorn of traditional clothing and identity of their Native cultures, taught that their cultures and traditions were evil and sinful, and that they should be ashamed of being Native American.
Beginning to create the circumstances in which healing can occur will require the Native American Rights Fund, along with many others working in the area, to turn back institutionalized ignorance of what happened, to dismantle legal blockades constructed long ago and being constructed anew to protect individuals and institutions from legal and financial responsibility, and to simply begin to uncover the truth of what has happened. NARF is proud and excited to have supported efforts to create the space for our Native nations to begin to heal from the boarding school policy. As an integral part of the healing process, this will also allow the United States and others involved in implementation of the policy over the decades the chance to heal from the damages they caused and that they suffer from as well.
NARF’s 2019 report, Trigger Points: Current State of Research on History, Impacts, and Healing Related to the United States’ Indian Industrial/Boarding School Policy, gathers existing research about the purposes and human rights abuses of US American Indian boarding school policies, why they matter still today, and—most importantly—how recovery can and is being accomplished. Special thanks the Tzó-Nah Fund for supporting this project and NARF over the years.
Let All That is Indian Within You Die! Native American Rights Fund’s Legal Review, Summer/Fall 2013. This 11-page article details the history of the boarding school policy in the United States and the ongoing efforts of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
Learn more about what is being done by visiting the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition website.