For about 100 years, the U.S. government supported a system of boarding schools where more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native children were stripped of their culture, their languages, and their religions and forced to assimilate to white customs.
That policy, which continued until the 1960s, has continued affects on native communities today, says a bill filed this week by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M.
The United States has never fully accounted for the harms caused by the schools, the lawmakers said. Their bill, which has attracted a bipartisan list of cosponsors, would form a "Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policy" to compile records and oral accounts of what happened in at 367 Indian boarding schools across 30 states. Those schools educated children as young as five years old and sometimes forced them into labor in white communities far from their homes, advocacy groups say, but many records of their practices have been lost or destroyed.