Welcome to FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update! NALU is a monthly newsletter about FCNL’s Native American policy advocacy and ways for you to engage members of Congress.
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Holds Hearing to Address Legacy of Indian Boarding Schools
On June 22, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA) held an oversight hearing on the findings of volume one of the Interior Department’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Report. They also held a legislative hearing to receive testimony on the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act (S. 2907).
Committee members asked about efforts to revitalize Native languages and what Congress can do to address some of the consequences of former boarding school policy. “I believe that our obligations to Native communities mean that federal policies should fully support and revitalize Native health care, education, Native languages, and cultural practices that prior federal Indian policies, like those supporting Indian boarding schools, sought to destroy,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Tribal leaders also testified on how critical and timely this work is to survivors and their families. “It’s one thing to share your story within your home or in your community, but it’s another thing to share where it’s going to be validated by the outside entities that have brought this on,” said Sandy Whitehawk, president of the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition. “It brings healing in itself. It addresses what we call disenfranchised grief, a grief that’s not been acknowledged.”
“The Indian Boarding School era was a dark period in our nation’s history–a painful example of how past federal policy failed American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians,” said Chairman Brian Schatz (HI). “We can’t undo history, but we must acknowledge it…And most importantly, we must work directly with Native communities on forging a path towards healing.”
FCNL gathered statements and minutes of support from Quaker communities across the country to submit to the committee. Further stories and written comments for the hearing’s record can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
First Native American to Lead U.S. Treasury Department
On June 21, President Joe Biden announced his intent to appoint Mutáwi Mutáhash Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba as Treasurer of the United States. Malerba is the Chief of the Mohegan Tribe and will be the first Native American to hold the position of U.S. Treasurer.
“I am honored and humbled by Secretary Yellen and the Biden administration’s commitment to ensuring that all voices are heard by Treasury as we work together to create an equitable and just society,” said Chief Lynn Malerba. “It is especially important that our Native voices are respected. This appointment underscores this Administration’s commitment to doing just that. I am excited to serve our communities as Treasurer and for the work ahead.”
Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies Act (H.R. 5444)
On June 15, the House Natural Resources Committee adopted H.R. 5444 by a voice vote, clearing the way for a possible vote on the House floor this summer. The bill would establish a commission to investigate the impacts and ongoing effects of federal Indian boarding school policies.
Advancing Equality for Wabanaki Nations Act (H.R. 6707)
On June 15, the House Natural Resources Committee adopted H.R. 6707 by a roll call vote, clearing the way for a possible vote on the House floor. The bill would update federal law to ensure Wabanaki tribes have the same access as other federally recognized tribes to federal programs and protections.