A127 Resolution for Telling the Truth about The Episcopal Church's History with Indigenous Boarding Schools

From the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition:

“Beginning with the Indian Civilization Act Fund of March 3, 1819 and the Peace Policy of 1869 the United States, in concert with and at the urging of several denominations of the Christian Church, adopted an Indian Boarding School Policy expressly intended to implement cultural genocide through the removal and reprogramming of American Indian and Alaska Native children to accomplish the systematic destruction of Native cultures and communities. The stated purpose of this policy was to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”

Between 1869 and the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of Native American children were removed from their homes and families and placed in boarding schools operated by the federal government and the churches. Though we don't know how many children were taken in total, by 1900 there were 20,000 children in Indian boarding schools, and by 1925 that number had more than tripled. The U.S. Native children that were voluntarily or forcibly removed from their homes, families, and communities during this time were taken to schools far away where they were punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional or cultural practices, stripped of traditional clothing, hair and personal belongings and behaviors reflective of their native culture. They suffered physical, sexual, cultural and spiritual abuse and neglect, and experienced treatment that in many cases constituted torture for speaking their Native languages. Many children never returned home and their fates have yet to be accounted for by the U.S. government.”[5]

In October 2021, Episcopal News Service reported:

“The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has identified at least 373 schools that were part of that system, many of them run by Christian denominations. At least nine were thought to have Episcopal Church connections, though the dearth of churchwide records has made it difficult to fully account for the church’s role in the schools.”[6]

In July 2021, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Rev. Gay Clark Jennings issued a  statement [7] committing to making right relationships with our Indigenous siblings an important focus of the work of Executive Council and the 80th General Convention including earmarking resources for independent research in the archives of The Episcopal Church, options for developing culturally appropriate liturgical materials and plans for educating Episcopalians across the church about this history, among other initiatives.

[5] US Indian Boarding School History” https://boardingschoolhealing.org/education/us-indian-boarding-school-history/ 

[6] “Indigenous leaders lament intergenerational trauma inflicted by boarding schools, some with Episcopal ties” by David Paulsen, posted Oct 12, 2021, https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2021/10/12/indigenous-leaders-lament-intergenerational-trauma-inflicted-by-boarding-schools-some-tied-to-episcopal-church/ 

[7] “Statement on Indigenous boarding schools by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings,” July 12, 2021, https://www.episcopalchurch.org/publicaffairs/statement-on-indigenous-boarding-schools-by-presiding-bishop-michael-curry-and-president-of-the-house-of-deputies-gay-clark-jennings/