Last week the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada announced their findings to the public. The Commission had been gathering statements and information for the past few years about the brutal residential school system that First Nations peoples in Canada were subjected to for much of the 20th century. The TRC is hardly a solution in and of itself to the problems that exist with First Nations people today. Rather, the TRC is only the beginning of a long, painful process for Canada and its relationship with its native population, it is a very significant step in the right direction.
In the United States, Native Americans were subjected to similar systems of abuse, both in education and in society more generally. The invisible scars from this system still reverberate today, despite the ignorance of most the US population about the matter. Today, Native Americans are among the most marginalized members of US society and face a host of challenges regarding employment, poverty, and health (particularly mental health). The root causes of their struggles are no mystery: they are a direct result of centuries of abuse by the US government and many of its people.
A TRC similar to Canada’s would bring the problems that Native Americans have faced and continue to face today to the forefront of the US public. Let us consider what our neighbors in the north have been doing, and work to bring similar questions to the public consciousness in this country.
Acknowledging past injustices is not the solution, merely the first step. Yet in the United States, such a step seems a long way off.