Skip to main content

News Release

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, led a hearing titled “Oversight Hearing on Volume 1 of the Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report & Legislative Hearing on S. 2907, Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act” to hear from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Native leaders and experts on the Department’s report, S. 2907, and addressing the needs of impacted Native communities.

Schatz opened the hearing by recognizing the shameful history of the Indian Boarding School era and affirming the Committee’s commitment to working with impacted Native communities to move forward together.

“The Indian Boarding School era was a dark period in our nation’s history – a painful example of how past federal policy failed American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians,” said Chairman Schatz. “We can’t undo history, but we must acknowledge it. We have to look at the full scope of these failures unflinchingly, with clear minds and fresh eyes. And most importantly, we must work directly with Native communities on forging a path towards healing.”

As part of the Committee’s work to help guide the federal government’s path toward achieving truth and reconciliation, Schatz welcomed testimony from survivors, should they choose to share their stories. These stories, as well as any written comments for the record on the hearing, can be submitted to testimony@indian.senate.gov.

The following witnesses participated in the oversight hearing:

  • The Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
    • Accompanied by the Honorable Bryan Newland, Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC
  • The Honorable Kirk Francis, Chief, Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, ME
  • Ms. Sandra White Hawk, President, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, Minneapolis, MN
  • Ms. Norma Ryūkō Kawelokū Wong Roshi, Native Hawaiian Policy Lead, Office of former Hawai‘i Governor John Waihe‘e, Honolulu, HI
  • Ms. La Quen Náay Liz Medicine Crow, President & CEO, First Alaskans Institute, Anchorage, AK

To view the full video of the hearing, click here.

U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs - Schatz - banner logo