Kevin Abourezk: Native people not waiting for apology
"In the Lakota way, the burning of sage is meant to clear away evil spirits.

Sometimes words can have the same effect.

On June 11, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology in the House of Commons for his government's treatment of the First Nations peoples in residential schools.

"I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools," Harper said. "The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history."

He recognized the traumatizing effects that efforts to assimilate students within the schools had on those students.

Here in the United States, efforts are underway to being a healing similar to that which began last week in Canada.

In February, the U.S. Senate passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that carried with it an amendment issuing a formal apology on behalf of the government for its mistreatment of Native people. Congress is now taking up consideration of the bill and the attached apology amendment.

And while some are hopeful the apology will get passed and lead to reconciliation between Native people and the U.S. government, others aren't waiting.

Starting in May 2009, Native riders will cross the country on bicycles to raise awareness of the government's abuse of Native people in boarding schools. The two coast-to-coast bicycle relays will be part of a national education campaign called the 2009 Way Home Tour."

Get the Story:
Kevin Abourezk: Native Groups Not Waiting for Apology (RezNet News 6/20)

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