Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman called on Congress to establish a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools in an op-ed published today in the Seattle Times.
The call for action comes on Orange T-Shirt Day or — more formally — Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools.
“We need to learn more, including the number of children forced to attend the schools, the number who were abused, died or went missing,” writes Forsman. “And we need to know the long-term impacts on the children and the families of children who were forced to attend the Indian Boarding Schools. The Truth and Healing Commission can help with this much-needed investigation.”
Forsman also said more work is needed in identifying the best ways to address the trauma inflicted on Native communities during the boarding school era.
“Many of the students adapted, endured and found ways to overcome and succeed within the system, and became mentors and leaders of their tribal nations despite the intent of the boarding school system. Still, many suffered in the past and many former students and their offspring continue to struggle today,” writes Forsman. “Anger and resentment are justified, but we must commit ourselves to the healing process.”
You can read Forsman’s full column here.