US boarding school review sparks calls for trauma support | We
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – Some members of Congress want to ensure protections are in place to deal with ongoing trauma as more information comes to light about the troubled history of Indigenous boarding schools in the States -United.
A group of 21 Democratic lawmakers representing states stretching from the Southwest to the East Coast sent a letter last week at the Indian health service. They call for the federal agency to provide culturally appropriate support services, such as a hotline and other mental and spiritual programs as the federal government undertakes its school survey.
Agency officials said in a statement Monday that they are reviewing the request and discussing next steps.
Advocacy groups say additional trauma resources for Indigenous communities are more urgent than ever.
“The first step we need to do is take care of our boarding school survivors,” said Deborah Parker, citizen of the Tulalip tribes and director of policy and advocacy at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
US Home Secretary Deb Haaland admitted the process would be painful. She and many others spoke of the federal government’s attempt to eradicate tribal identity, language and culture through its residential school policies and how that past continued to manifest itself in long-standing trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, premature death, mental health issues and substance abuse.
Part of the Home Office’s job is to identify potential burial sites in old schools and document the names and tribal affiliations of the students buried there. The agency has pledged to work with the tribes on how best to protect the sites and respect families and communities.
The lawmakers in their letter described the residential school era as a “stain in American history.” They wrote that revisiting this story will undoubtedly be traumatic for survivors and their communities.
“We are confident that IHS is equipped to consider ways to avoid inflicting or aggravating existing intergenerational trauma,” the letter read.
The Indian Health Service noted Monday that young Native Americans are 2.5 times more likely to experience trauma compared to their non-Native peers and that the agency aims to provide a “safe, supportive, welcoming, non-punitive, environment. respectful, healthy and healing for all patients and staff.
Still, it will take work to ensure services are widely available, as criticism of India’s health service and chronic funding shortfalls have spanned decades and many presidential administrations. The pandemic has exacerbated health care disparities seen in many Indigenous communities.
According to the Biden administration’s latest spending proposal, the agency would see a 36% increase in its annual budget for the next fiscal year. It would mark the largest single-year funding increase for the agency in decades, officials said. About $ 420 million in pandemic relief funds will also go towards expanding mental health and addiction prevention and treatment services to IHS and tribal health programs.
Beginning in the early 1800s, efforts to assimilate indigenous youth into white society by removing them from their homes and sending them to residential schools lasted for over a century. According to the Residential School Healing Coalition, hundreds of thousands of Native American children went through residential schools in the United States between 1869 and the 1960s.
Although research and family accounts confirm that there have been children who never made it home, a full account of deaths in schools has never been made.
Some tribes and others have embarked on their own investigations.
Over the next few months, researchers intention to use ground penetrating radar at the site of a former Utah residential school where tribal chiefs say there may be anonymous graves. Corrina Bow, president of the Paiute Indian tribe of Utah, said boarding school officials would take children as young as 6 and force them to work on a farm on the property.
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