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MAIBA Statement re Indian Boarding Schools

The Minnesota American Indian Bar Association (MAIBA) commends the recent announcement of Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland to the National Congress of American Indians for a federal investigation on cemeteries and policies of the federal Indian boarding schools.  In her Secretarial memo dated June 22, 2021, she stated the history spanning over one hundred years aimed at American Indian children through federal laws and policies meant to destroy Native culture.

Beginning with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819 and running through the 1960s, the United States enacted laws and implemented policies establishing and supporting Indian boarding schools across the Nation. During that time, the purpose of Indian boarding schools was to culturally assimilate Indigenous children by forcibly relocating them from their families and communities to distant residential facilities where their American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian identities, languages, and beliefs were to be forcibly suppressed.

The legal, political, and religious forces that lined up to break apart American Indian families must be addressed and held to account for the often abusive environments that many of our ancestors, grandparents, and parents experienced as defenseless children.  In contemporary times as Native American lawyers and with Native American clients, we continue to shed light on the intergenerational trauma caused by these destructive legal and political actions.

We stand in solidarity with the 11 Minnesota Tribes, local and national American Indian organizations, and American Indian individuals who seek to provide the full history of the consequences of U.S. Indian policy from the 1800s to the present.  We do so to uplift the future generations of American Indians and to signal that education is no longer meant to harm and strip our people of our cultural identity, spirituality or family/tribal connections.  As an organization, we encourage American Indians to enter the field of law and join us as lawyers serving our tribal communities and tribal peoples.

To read the full statement, click here.