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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Resolution calls attention to the trauma of Indian boarding schools

A joint resolution to recognize the history and trauma of American Indian boarding schools and ask for a federal day of remembrance was heard in the state Legislature Wednesday.

Democratic Senator Susan Webber from Browning is carrying the resolution that asks the 68th Legislature to recognize the trauma inflicted by removing American Indian children from their families and sending them to boarding schools.

Senator Webber shared her firsthand experience as a survivor of Indian Boarding Schools having attended the Cut Bank Boarding School until junior high.

“I just want to say that I wanted to bring this bill, because I, my generation, is the last generation that had to go to boarding school,” Webber said. “We had to go to boarding school. Now I'm not 150 years old. This was still going on in the ‘60s.”

The resolution also asks the U.S. government to create a national day of remembrance for the children that died in boarding schools.

The U.S. Department of the Interior published a report last year as part of an ongoing investigation into the country’s past assimilation policies. It found 18 boarding school sites in Montana.

More than a dozen people gave public testimony in support of the resolution in its first committee hearing. There were no opponents. The Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee did not immediately take action on the bill.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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