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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Native American Pastor Seeks White House Apology for Historic Abuses

Cecily Hilleary |  September 06, 2021 VOICE OF AMERICA

Indian Boarding School
FILE - Children pose in an unidentified Indian boarding school in Minnesota, ca. 1900.

WASHINGTON - Almost every important piece of U.S. legislation contains at least one completely unrelated provision, embedded either as a favor to lawmakers or because it couldn’t pass as a standalone law. 

As it was with the 2010 defense appropriations act, H.R. 3326 (now, Public Law 111-118), which contained America’s first apology to Native Americans for historic policies of assimilation and forced removal. 

The bill, which passed in the Senate on December 19, 2009, and was signed by then-President Barack Obama the same day, recognizes the legal and political relationship between the U.S. and tribes, acknowledges “years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants,” and apologizes for violence, maltreatment and neglect.

US apology to Native Americans
A U.S. apology for historic wrongs against Native Americans was embedded deep within a defense spending bill passed December 19, 2009.

“The apology covered pretty much what it needed to cover,” said Dr. Negiel Bigpond, a fourth-generation Christian pastor and member of the Euchee (Yuchi) tribe, which was forced into absorption by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in the late 19th century. For years, he worked with then-Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas to get a joint resolution of apology through Congress. 

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Hundreds of Native American children succumbed to disease, neglect in boarding school era.
"When I did have children, I didn't know how to raise them."

For more than a century, from the late 1870s to the early 1970s, the U.S. government forcibly took thousands of Native American children from reservations and sent them to federal or religious boarding schools. At that time, supporters of the policy said these institutions would help Indians assimilate into mainstream American society, while later critics charged that the schools tried to eradicate the Indian culture by suppressing traditional languages and customs.


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