June 25, 2022

Vice Chairman Murkowski: It Is Long Past Time to Come to Terms with the Dark Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools

Washington, DC – This week, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) held an oversight hearing on “Volume 1 of the Department of the Interior’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report” and a legislative hearing to receive testimony on S. 2907, the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act.


Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Vice Chairman of SCIA provided opening remarks acknowledging the dark legacy of the Indian boarding school era, the need to address those past injustices, and support processes that bring healing to survivors, their families, and communities. The Department of the Interior’s release of volume one of its ongoing investigation is an important first step, but Congress also needs to act. Senator Murkowski is co-leading legislation, S. 2907, to establish a formal commission to complement the Interior Department’s Initiative, to further investigate, document, and address the impacts of Indian boarding schools.


“It is long past time for the United States to come to terms with the dark and terrible legacy of Indian Boarding Schools. These boarding schools attempted to ‘break’ Native children in order to quickly assimilate them into the dominant white culture. As part of this breaking process, Native children were stripped of their identity, language, and culture, often forcibly. Many of these students never returned home,” said Vice Chairman Murkowski. “Last September, on the National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools, I had the honor of speaking on the Senate floor to recognize and remember the children who attended these schools. The stories are terrible, but they are not isolated to Alaska. Instead, they are very similar to many Native children’s stories that are just beginning to be recounted. Alaska’s neighbor to the east, Canada, is dealing with its own history and legacy of Indian Boarding Schools. The idea of a Truth and Healing Commission to help address and heal from such atrocities has been implemented in Canada and serves as an example we can learn from, which is why I am co-leading S. 2907 to establish a formal truth and healing commission in the United States.”



Pictured: Senator Lisa Murkowski at SCIA Hearing on June 22, 2022


Vice Chairman Murkowski invited Ms. Liz La quen náay Medicine Crow, President and CEO of the First Alaskans Institute, to testify at the SCIA hearing. Medicine Crow is Haida and Lingít from Kake, Alaska, and an enrolled Tribal Citizen of the Organized Village of Kake.



Pictured: Senator Lisa Murkowski with Ms. Liz La quen náay Medicine Crow at SCIA Hearing on June 22, 2022


Click here to watch the full SCIA hearing and find witness testimony.