By John D. McKinnon
The bill contains an “apology to Native Peoples of the United States.”
The multi-year effort to pass the language was bipartisan: Sens. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) and Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) led the campaign, which began in 2004. President Barack Obama signed the language, apparently the first official apology to Native Americans, into law on Monday.
Congress has previously approved apologies to Japanese-Americans interned during World War II, and to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The House and Senate recently have passed different resolutions apologizing for slavery in the U.S.
The just-approved language says, in part, that “the United States, acting through Congress…recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes.”
The U.S. “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States,” the statement says, adding that it is committed “to move toward a brighter future where all the people of this land live reconciled as brothers and sisters, and harmoniously steward and protect this land together.”
The statement adds, however, that it isn’t intended to support any lawsuit claims against the government (and there are still plenty).
For more on the US apology, see Trying Again for US Apology and Apology Would Be Inspiring. For other nations' apologies, see Canada Says It's Sorry and Australia Apologizes to Aborigines.