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News Release

Office of United States Representative Sharice Davids (D-KS-03)

Yesterday, Representative Sharice Davids testified before the House Natural Resources Committee on her bipartisan bill, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act. Yesterday’s hearing on her legislation, which aims to understand and heal from the impact of federal Indian boarding school policies, directly follows the release of Volume 1 of the Department of the Interior’s report identifying 408 schools and more than 50 associated burial sites. Davids is one of the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress.

Watch Davids’ testimony on the legacy of U.S. Indian Boarding Schools:

“My grandparents are Ruth Stacy and Lawrence Little George, who are both survivors of Indian Boarding Schools. I would not be here today if not for the resilience of my ancestors and those who came before me,” said Davids. “If these children were able to endure and survive the Indian Boarding School era in our nation, then we should be able to find it in ourselves to fully investigate what happened to our relatives and work towards a brighter path for the next seven generations.”

Indian Boarding School Policies led to the forced removal of children from their homes and families and stripped American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children of their identities, beliefs, and languages. According to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, by 1926, an estimated 83 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children, as young as 3 years old, were enrolled in Indian boarding schools across 30 states, resulting in human rights violations, including physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and trauma.

Yesterday’s hearing in the Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Indigenous Peoples of the United States examined Davids’ bill, H.R. 5444. Originally introduced last Congress by then-Representative Deb Haaland, this bill would establish a formal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge past injustices of the federal government's Indian Boarding School Policies. This includes attempts to terminate Native cultures, religions, and languages; assimilation practices; and human rights violations. The commission would also develop recommendations for Congress to 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 personal experiences tied to these human rights violations.

“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, I work with the other Native members and our colleagues to ensure that the needs of tribal nations and communities are prioritized, and our voices are included in discussions when developing legislation. That is why I worked with Native American Caucus Co-Chair Tom Cole to introduce H.R. 5444 and worked across the aisle to gather bipartisan support,” said Davids in her testimony yesterday.