PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Starting in the 1800s, the U.S. Government began removing Native American children from reservations and placing them in boarding schools. It was an effort to assimilate the children into Western civilization and strip away their Native American culture. An exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix reveals what life was like inside the schools.
The laws allowing Native American children to be removed from their home and various forms of discrimination against Native Americans are still part of current law. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is one of the sponsors of the RESPECT Act. The legislation, which unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate, and would repeal 11 outdated laws that target tribal communities. Sinema says repealing the laws is not a symbolic gesture.
“Tribal communities in Arizona deserve to be treated with dignity by the federal government,” she said in a statement. “The RESPECT Act sends a clear message to Native American tribal communities in Arizona and all across the country that the United States recognizes horrible actions from the past and has taken action to remove these laws in recognition of that flawed past and a commitment to moving forward together with shared commitment, value, and respect.”
11 laws the RESPECT Act seeks to repeal
• 25 U.S.C. 302 Indian Reform School; rules and regulations; consent of parents to placing youth in reform school The Commissioner of Indian Affairs, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, is authorized and directed to select and designate some of the schools or other institution herein specifically provided for as an “Indian Reform School,” and to make all needful rules and regulations for its conduct, and the placing of Indian youth therein.
• 25 U.S.C. 72 Abrogation of treaties; Whenever the tribal organization of any Indian tribe is in actual hostility to the United States, the President is authorized, by proclamation, to declare all treaties with such tribe abrogated by such tribe if in his opinion the same can be done consistently with good faith and legal and national obligations.
• 25 U.S.C. 127 Moneys of annuities of hostile Indians; No moneys or annuities stipulated by any treaty with an Indian tribe for which appropriations are made shall be expended for, or paid, or delivered to any tribe which, since the next preceding payment under such treaty, has engaged in hostilities against the United States, or against its citizens peacefully or lawfully sojourning or traveling within its jurisdiction at the time of such hostilities; nor in such case shall such stipulated payments or deliveries be resumed until new appropriations shall have been made therefor by Congress.
• 25 U.S.C. 128 Appropriations not paid to Indians at war with United States; None of the appropriations made for the Indian Service shall be paid to any band of Indians or any portion of any band while at war with the United States or with the white citizens of any of the States or Territories.
• 25 U.S.C. 129 Moneys due Indians holding captives other than Indians withheld; The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to withhold, from any tribe of Indians who may hold any captives other than Indians, any moneys due them from the United States until said captives shall be surrendered to the lawful authorities of the United States.
• 25 U.S.C. 130 Withholding of moneys of goods on account of intoxicating liquors; No annuities, or moneys, or goods, shall be paid or distributed to Indians while they are under the influence of any description of intoxicating liquor, nor while there are good and sufficient reasons leading the officers or agents, whose duty it may be to make such payments or distribution, to believe that there is any species of intoxicating liquor within convenient reach.
• 25 U.S.C. 137 Supplies distributed to able-bodied males on condition; For the purpose of inducing Indians to labor and become self-supporting, it is provided that, in distributing the supplies and annuities to the Indians for whom the same are appropriated, the agent distributing the same shall require all able-bodied male Indians between the ages of eighteen and forty-five to perform service upon the reservation, for the benefit of themselves or of the tribe..
• 25 U.S.C. 138 Goods withheld from chiefs violating treaty stipulations; No delivery of goods or merchandise shall be made to the chiefs of any tribe, by authority of any treaty, if such chiefs have violated the stipulations contained in such treaty upon their part.
• 25 U.S.C. 273 Detail of Army officer; The Secretary of the Army shall be authorized to detail an officer of the Army, not above the rank of captain, for special duty with reference to Indian education.
• 25 U.S.C. 283 Regulations for withholding rations for nonattendance at schools; The Secretary of the Interior may in his discretion, establish such regulations as will prevent the issuing of rations or the furnishing of subsistence either in money or in kind to the head of any Indian family for or on account of any Indian child or children between the ages of eight and twenty-one years who shall not have attended school during the preceding year in accordance with such regulations…
• 25 U.S.C. 285 Withholding annuities from Osage Indians for nonattendance at schools; The Commissioner of Indian Affairs is authorized in his discretion to withhold any annuities or other payments due to Osage Indian minors, above six years of age, whose parents fail, neglect, or refuse to place such minors in some established school for a reasonable portion of each year and to keep such children in regular attendance thereof. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs is authorized to make such rules and regulations as may be necessary to put this provision into force and effect.