Commentary: The calls for justice in every corner of our globe continue to get louder and louder. Not only because injustices continue happening across our world, but because people have been awakened, and they are not allowing our governments and ourselves to turn a blind eye to systemic violence and abuse impacting our communities.
The world is being forced to reckon with the brutal reality of systemic genocide against Indigenous peoples around the world after the remains of 215 children were found in the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Southern British Columbia. Residential schools are what we in the United States have come to know as ‘Native American Boarding Schools’. While this story has made the news globally, this horrible discovery has been met with silence and inaction right here in New Mexico––despite the well documented history of atrocities that were carried out in our five boarding schools.
While many may dismiss these events as something “that happened a long time ago”, the truth is, this form of systemic violence against Indigenous people has only evolved, still leading to the death of our community members every day.
Our Indigneous youth in this current day face ongoing systemic injustice as a continuation of the boarding school era in other forms. Underfunded resources and support for Indigenous students contributes to high drop out rates. Indigenous youth have the same rates of PTSD as combat veterans. Indigenous families are being forced to accept an underfunded and inadequate healthcare system that is saturated with our friends and family who are victims of food apartheid, and systemic malnutrition. Indigenous women and girls are being murdered and go missing at an outrageous rate with complete impunity for the perpetrators. And lastly, many survivors remain in our tribes and pueblos, deprived of any resources or tools to cope with the trauma they lived through as they were separated from their families, and the system attempted to take away their dignity, humanity, and culture–leading them into a self-destructive path of substance abuse.
New Mexico has an opportunity to act boldly and face our past head-on to acknowledge the atrocities carried out against Indigenous peoples.
We call for our governor and her administration to carry out extensive investigations as to whether the boarding schools in our state hide the remains of our ancestors. Those who were robbed of their life as a byproduct of forced assimilation and as an ultimate attempt of subduing the Indigenous people of our land in the name of white supremacy. And if this investigation exhibits the ugly truth about the violent history against our people, we demand the creation of a special task force or division charged with the recognition of the harm done against Indigenous families and communities while creating resources and spaces for healing for our survivors.
No matter the results of the investigation, we as Indigenous people of this continent demand the truth. Because this is the first step to move in the right direction to address the systemic harm perpetrated against Indigenous communities.
Marquel Musgrave is the Membership & Outreach Director for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women.