Ketchikan Daily News: Opinion: A needed measure

The federal government should do no harm — period.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has joined 26 senators to reintroduce a bill important to prevent historical atrocities.

Murkowski, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, supports the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act.

The act seeks healing for stolen Native children and their communities, according to a Murkowski press release.

The bill would establish a formal commission to investigate, document and acknowledge past injustices of the federal government's Indian Boarding School Policies.

Those policies included attempts to eliminate Native culture, religion and language, human rights violations, and assimilating practices.

The commission, if implemented, would create aid in healing of the historical and intergenerational trauma passed down in Native families and communities, and provide a forum for victims to speak about experiences tied to human rights violations.

"It is past time the U.S. government come to terms with the dark legacy of the Indian boarding school era, ... says Sen. Murkowski. "A ... commission will help ... support processes that bring healing to survivors, their families, and communities."

The boarding school policies stripped Alaska Native and American Indian children of their Indigenous identities, beliefs and languages.

Nearly 83% of these children, as young as 5, were forcibly removed from their homes to be enrolled in one of 367 Indian boarding schools in 30 states.

The result has been historical and intergenerational trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, disappearance, premature deaths and psychological trauma.

This act follows a U.S. Department of Interior investigative report on Indian boarding schools.

The federal government inflicted pain across the nation. That, like other federal decisions, has had longstanding results.

It might take a long time to undo the harm. But, the federal role is to protect, and when it fails, to heal.

By:  Ketchikan Daily News
Source: Ketchikan Daily