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Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) spoke in support of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act, legislation she has cosponsored to investigate, document, and acknowledge past injustices of the federal government’s Indian Boarding School Policies. The legislation unanimously passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs with support from over 100 survivors, descendants, Tribal leaders, advocates, churches, local governments, and experts and will head to the Senate floor for consideration.
Senator Cortez Masto spotlighted the tragedies that occurred in Nevada at government-sponsored Indian Boarding Schools and called on her colleagues to support this critical legislation to address past injustices: “This bill could not be more relevant to our Tribal communities in Nevada. We have three such schools in my home state, one of which, The Stewart Indian School was operated by the federal government from 1890 to 1980. The Stewart Indian School, like many Indian schools, was meant to erase Native culture and identity. The thousands of students who attended the Stewart School were forced to forget their languages and were often prevented from seeing family members. Those family members were not informed when children were sick or even passed away. In fact, there are nearly 100 unmarked graves that have been identified in the school cemetery. This is only a sliver of the cruelty, of the abuse that Native children at The Stewart Indian School endured. And that is why it is important and crucial for us to act on this painful chapter in our history, and give space for acknowledgement and healing.”
The bipartisan Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act 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.
- Develop recommendations for Congress to aid in healing of the historical and intergenerational trauma passed down in Native families and communities.
- Provide a forum for victims to speak about personal experiences tied to these human rights violations.
A member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Cortez Masto is a strong voice for the Tribal Nations in Nevada. The Senator has continuously highlightedthe ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), and she passed Not Invisible Act and Savanna’s Act into law. Collaborating with Native leaders, the Senator has delivered millions to Tribal Nations in Nevada to develop housing to serve community elders, veterans, and families, as well as critical federal fundingto expand Tribal broadband. To help conserve and protect Tribal cultures, she passed a bipartisan bill to increase penalties for trafficking in sacred items, and passed legislation to preserve Native languages.