Executive Council Committee on Native Boarding Schools and Advocacy
Resolved that on lands that were tended by the Taíno peoples, taken from them and renamed San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, meeting on April 20-23, 2022, acknowledges and mourns the devastation caused by Indigenous Boarding Schools during the 19th and 20th centuries and commits to investigate and tell whatever is true about The Episcopal Church’s involvement with these schools.
Previous silence on this topic does not condone the cultural and religious genocide that occurred at these schools across the United States. To fully grapple with its history and any relationship it has to these atrocities, The Episcopal Church must bring together its stories, experiences, records, and documents, to its archives. The legacy of these schools must be acknowledged, understood, and learned from so that we can come to a full understanding of The Episcopal Church’s involvement and the schools’ religious and cultural impact. Even while the full story of the Indigenous Boarding Schools and their relationship to The Episcopal Church is as yet not clearly known, Executive Council recognizes and deeply regrets the hurt carried by Indigenous Episcopalians and grieves the ongoing legacies of these schools; and be it further
Resolved, that The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church grieves the unequal treatment Indigenous and Native Peoples have received when they have suffered harms that deserve attention and redress, and expresses its solidarity with the Indigenous and Native Peoples of the world and supports the rights of Indigenous and Native Peoples to equal treatment; and be it further
Resolved that Executive Council create an Executive Council Committee for Indigenous Boarding Schools and Advocacy as a Committee of Executive Council, charged with guiding and overseeing three initiatives: (1) the gathering of historical information about Indigenous Boarding Schools that had any relationship to The Episcopal Church, including information revealing the nature and extent of that relationship (the Gathering Initiative), (2) the curation of the gathered information in a collection, housed in the Archives of The Episcopal Church, that will tell the story of the Schools’ relationship to the Church and their impacts on Indigenous Episcopalians, even until today (the Story Initiative), taking care to interweave the stories of Episcopal Indigenous boarding schools with the ongoing Native oppression and white supremacy, and (3) the development and implementation of a plan for gathering information and hearing stories about the varieties of ways that Indigenous and Native peoples are subjected to unequal treatment by the federal government, state governments, and other authorities, including information provided by the ongoing investigation by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and, in conjunction, the development of proposals for advocacy and other action responding to the issues identified (the Advocacy Initiative). The Advocacy Initiative shall include in its focus, but not be limited to, information and stories about missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirits whose deaths have not been investigated by authorities, as well as the lack of reporting and collecting of statistics on missing and murdered Native and Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirits; and be it further
Resolved, that in carrying out the Gathering Initiative and the Story Initiative, the Committee shall nominate to the Executive Committee of Executive Council (ECEC) one or more independent historians and other experts not connected to The Episcopal Church who, with the consent of the ECEC, shall be engaged to gather information, including by reviewing information contained in the Church’s Archives and those of other Episcopal and non-Episcopal institutions, as well as by directly collecting and preserving the oral histories of Indigenous Episcopalian survivors and their families. In connection with any such nomination, the Committee shall also propose the scope of the anticipated work of the person nominated, which also shall be subject to the consent of the ECEC. Following engagement, the Committee shall make regular reports to the Executive Council on the progress of the work of any particular expert. The ECEC shall have authority for oversight of the investigative work, including termination of any expert.
Scholarly independence of these investigators and experts is required to ensure the integrity of any conclusions reached, no matter how difficult those may be for the Church. The Committee will work with the expert(s) to develop questions to be considered in addition to those developed by the expert(s). The questions should include, at a minimum:
(a) How many Boarding Schools were there with ties to The Episcopal Church?
(b) How many students attended those Boarding Schools and how many may have been injured, were sick or died at the Boarding Schools far from their homes?
(d) How were the Episcopal Indigenous Boarding Schools funded and founded and by which institutions and individuals, including but not limited to diocesan leaders, clergy and lay leaders of The Episcopal Church, the Board of Missions, the UTO, and/or the Women’s Auxiliary?
(h) Were missionaries assigned to schools, how many, and from which dioceses or institutions?
(i) Were there any inspections or reports concerning the schools?
(j) What is the current status of the schools?
(k) Did The Episcopal Church play any role in other denominations’ schools?; and be it further
Resolved, that the Committee is encouraged to consult with other religious denominations to learn what similar efforts they may be making and explore whether collaboration in the development of these histories may be beneficial; and be it further
Resolved, that in carrying out the Story Initiative, the Committee will work closely with the Office of Indigenous Ministries and the Archives of The Episcopal Church in their development of collections related to Indigenous Boarding Schools, including the creation of resource guides, research documents, and intentionally gathered records and holdings regarding Indigenous Boarding Schools with any relationship to The Episcopal Church. This new Archives collection isintended to be the main repository for information about these long-defunct schools, including materials such as school records, fundraising materials, and wider church oversight records; and will be made available for online review and searching, as well as at the Archives building on the ancestral homelands of Jumanos, Tonkawa, Ndé Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Lipan Apache), Coahuiltecan, Nʉmʉnʉʉ (Comanche) taken from them and renamed Austin, Texas; and be it further
Resolved, that in carrying out the Advocacy Initiative, the Committee will work with the Office of Indigenous Ministries and the Office of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church in its development of proposals for advocacy and other action responding to the issues identified; and be it further
Resolved, that the Executive Council intends that the work of the Committee will aid in developing a justice-making healing process for Indigenous communities and creating a legacy to pass on to the next generations; and be it further
Resolved that the Committee will include a total of 15 members and have a majority membership of Indigenous and Native Episcopalians. Membership shall include historians, storytellers, and trusted elders in the Indigenous communitieswith a diversity of tribal affiliations honoring the diversity of Indigenous Episcopalians. There will be at least one member who is also on the Native and Indigenous Ministries Council of Advice; and the Missioner for Indigenous Ministries shall act as Staff liaison; and be it further
Resolved that the Committee shall report its findings regularly to the Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Mission Within and the wider Church, and per the Executive Council Bylaw VIII.2.d, it will continue until the end of the 82nd General Convention, unless extended by the Executive Council; and be it further
Resolved, Executive Council urges dioceses to contribute their records to the Story Initiative, and to appoint their own Indigenous and Native ministry advocates so that this important work can continue throughout communities, counties, states, and commonwealths.
This resolution and Committee is a top priority of The Episcopal Church.
The Presiding Officers and The Executive Council are committted to funding the work of this Executive Council Committee. The funding of this resolution is located in Line 514, which funds Executive Council and its committees, and the Secretary of Executive Council has indicated that the funding is available in that line.