Senator Sam Brownback reads apology to American Indians
Apology Acknowledges Years Of Wrongdoing By U.S. Government Toward American Indians
United States Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) read a congressional resolution on Wednesday apologizing for "ill-conceived policies" and acts of violence against American Indians.
Brownback spoke during an event at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where he and Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Lois Capps of California and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii joined representatives from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Muscogee (Creek), Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Pawnee nations, Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith said.
Brownback First Introduced Native American Apology Resolution In 2004
Brownback, in partnership with former Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, and Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) first introduced the Native American Apology Resolution on the evening of May 6, 2004, the National Day of Prayer. The Senate finally passed a version of the resolution last October and President Obama signed it into law on Saturday, December 19, 2009. The Apology Resolution was included as Section 8113 in the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 3326, Public Law No. 111-118.
Section 8113 - States that the United States, acting through Congress: (1) recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the federal government regarding Indian tribes; (2) apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted upon them by U.S. citizens; (3) urges the President to acknowledge such wrongs; and (4) commends state governments that have begun reconciliation efforts and encourages all state governments to work toward reconciling their relationships with Indian tribes within their boundaries. States that nothing in this section authorizes or supports any claim, or serves as a settlement of a claim, against the United States.
Creek Nation Second Chief Alfred Berryhill Called Apology "a historical step"
Even though the resolution is not meant to authorize or support any claim against the U.S. government and this report indicates that it should be viewed as a symbolic gesture that would help promote a renewed commitment by the federal government to the tribes, Creek Nation Second Chief Alfred Berryhill called the apology "a historical step" between the U.S. government and the tribes.
"We feel as if this took effort on the part of the U.S. government," Berryhill said. "We do appreciate the effort of the Congress. I know it's hard for our nation to apologize to anybody."
Congressional Cemetery Final Resting Place To Thousands
The Congressional Cemetery is a historic cemetery and final resting place to thousands of individuals who helped form the nation and the city of Washington in the early 19th century.
[It is also] the burial site for 36 tribal representatives from 12 American Indian nations who died in the region while representing their people, according to the Faith and Politics Institute, a group that helped present Wednesday's event. Among them are William Shorey Coodey, the author of the Cherokee Nation constitution, who died in 1849, and former Choctaw Nation Chief Pushmataha, who died in 1824.