The purpose of this toolkit is to provide those who work in AI/AN communities with information, resources, and suggested activities for talking about and healing the generational traumatic impacts boarding schools have had on AI/AN individuals, families, and communities. In January 2023, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) and Indian Health Services (IHS) contracted with Kauffman and Associates, Inc. (KAI) to develop an electronic toolkit for teachers, public health professionals, mental health professionals, tribal administrators, and public safety professionals. The toolkit is intended to be a brief, reader-friendly resource with information on the historical trauma resulting from Indian boarding schools in the United States. This team conducted a literature review, spoke to boarding school survivors and descendants, consulted with individuals and organizations working in the field of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) healing and resilience, and collaborated with educators to develop this toolkit.
The authors of this toolkit acknowledge and honor the resilience and strength of the U.S. Indian boarding school students, survivors, and their descendants. The enduring trauma inflicted by forced assimilation policies is a painful chapter in American history, and we stand in solidarity with those who have carried the weight of this legacy for generations. To the survivors and their families, your courage in sharing your stories and seeking healing is a testament to your indomitable spirit. We recognize the profound intergenerational trauma that has been passed down and the continual impact is has had on AI/AN communities.
We also extend our gratitude to those who will use this toolkit—the dedicated administrators, public officials, health care providers, and educators who work tirelessly to provide support, healing, and education to those affected by this historical injustice. Your commitment to addressing the complex physical, emotional, and cultural wounds caused by these policies is commendable. In community and ceremony, we can strive for healing, reclamation, and revitalization of AI/AN cultures and traditions these policies tried to extinguish.
Pamela End of Horn, DSW, National Suicide Prevention Consultant – IHS
Colbie Caughlan, MPH, Project Director – NPAIHB
Julia Keefe, MM, Project Manager – KAI
Robin Harwick, PhD., Senior Researcher – KAI
Aaron Payment, PhD., Subject Mater Expert – KAI
Jane Middleton Moz. MS, Consultant
Patricia Whitefoot, MEd., Consultant
John Bird, MEd., Expert Advisor
Gary Nuemann, CPS, Expert Advisor
Eric Buffalohead, PhD., Expert Advisor
Joni Buffalohead, PhD., Expert Advisor
Anna Whiting-Sorrell, MPA, Expert Advisor
Barbara Aragon, MSW, Expert Advisor
JoAnn Kauffman, MPH, Expert Advisor
Helen Goodteacher, MA, Artist of the Cover
Dolores Jimerson, LCSW, ADS
Aurora Martinez Sqwemey7ileshewó:t, MHA
We would like to acknowledge the complexity of this work and the vulnerability of those who chose to participate in the creation of this toolkit. They invested not only their professional insights but their personal family stories, and without their profound commitment to highlighting the truth of the boarding school experience and its impacts, this toolkit would not have been created.