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Federal report highlights historical injustices of Native boarding schools

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Photo Courtesy Washington State Archives - American Indian children pictured in a field in front of the Chehalis Boarding and Day School in Oakville in 1885.

Last Wednesday, a national investigative report was released by the U.S. Department of the Interior identifying more than 400 federally-run schools for Native American children, including 15 in Washington state. Beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the 1960s, federal officials forcibly removed children from their families and placed them with educators who suppressed the use of Native language and any learning of Native cultures and beliefs. This included changing their Native names, cutting their hair, wearing uniforms and more.

The report is the first step for the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative launched by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland last June following stunning revelations of hundreds of unmarked graves at Indian residential schools in Canada. The institutions identified in the report that operated in Washington include:

  • Chehalis Boarding and Day School in Oakville
  • Quinault Boarding and Day School in Taholah
  • Colville Mission School in Kettle Falls
  • Cushman Indian School in Tacoma
  • Fort Simcoe Indian Boarding School in White Swan
  • Fort Spokane Boarding School in Davenport
  • Neah Bay Boarding and Day School in Neah Bay
  • Puyallup Indian School in Squaxin Island
  • S'Kokomish Boarding and Day School in Olympia
  • St. George Indian Residential School in Federal Way
  • St. Joseph's Boarding School in Federal Way
  • Paschal Sherman Indian School in Omak
  • Tonasket Boarding School in Tonasket
  • Tulalip Indian Industrial School in Tulalip Bay
  • Tulalip Mission School in Priest's Point

"The federal and state governments of the United States have dealt tremendous loss and suffering to the Native and Indigenous people throughout generations, including the horrific and systematic erasure of their culture and their children," Inslee said in response to the report. "It is difficult to confront such hard truths about our past, but it is necessary for healing and progress. Washington state stands ready to do what we can to acknowledge the trauma and harm these schools caused, and uplift the efforts of those who fight to ensure the many Tribal languages, cultures and knowledge persist and flourish."

Secretary Haaland is the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary. You can read her op-ed about her family's experience with federal boarding schools.

"You belong here" - Students and State Leaders Celebrate
Progress in Helping More People Find Path after High School

Gov. Jay Inslee joined Rep. Vandana Slatter, Sen. Emily Randall, University of Washington - Tacoma Chancellor Dr. Sheila Edwards-Lange, students and others at a Washington College Promise Coalition event last Wednesday to celebrate post-secondary education successes in the 2022 legislative session.
Washington's goal is to help 70% of students complete a degree, apprenticeship, certificate, or other credential after they graduate high school. Programs like Running Start, Career Connect Washington and the Washington College Grant all aim to help more students find - and fund - a pathway that works for them. This past session, lawmakers approved a bill to develop a low-interest college loan program with interest rates of 1% or lower.

"One of the student leaders at the event made a short but powerful statement: 'I want everyone to know you belong here.' Everyone's path looks different after high school. I'm proud of Washington's progress in expanding access to college, career training, apprenticeships and more," Inslee said after the event. "Congratulations and thanks to the many legislators, labor and business leaders, students and others who are helping all people find their path and know they belong."

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Month is "Together for Mental Health." Everyone deals with challenges that affect their mental health, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made those challenges worse for many people. The number of people experiencing anxiety and depression has increased significantly, particularly among young people, health care workers, communities of color and frontline workers.

Unfortunately, fewer than half the people struggling with mental health issues receive proper treatment.

This month is a reminder that it's always a good time to make sure we are taking care of our mental health; talking to friends and family; seeking resources for assistance; and talking to our primary care providers.

Improving access to behavioral health services has been a strong priority for Washington state leaders in recent years. Notably, the Legislature approved significant funding last session to help schools hire additional counselors, nurses and psychologists. In addition, the state will be launching a new 988 hotline this summer that will provide a way for people to call for crisis and emergency mental health services.

Sometimes, a person simply needs a compassionate person to listen. If you or someone you know needs information or services, contact the WA Warm Line at 877-500-WARM (9276). Additional resources and hotlines are available on the state's COVID-19 website.

Time to Prepare:
New Federal ID Requirements
for Air Travel Begin in One Year

The federal REAL ID Act is about one year away from going into effect nationally. Starting May 3, 2023 a standard Washington driver's licenses will no longer be a valid form of identification for domestic air travel.

The Washington State Department of Licensing recommends people begin planning now to make sure they have everything they need to travel. Acceptable forms of identification will include a passport, enhanced drivers license, military ID, or federally recognized Tribal-issued ID.

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