The Utah Native American Legislative Liaison Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Legislature passage of the American Indian Holocaust Memorial Museum Resolution.
This resolution acknowledges the atrocities committed against the American Indian, including against their “lands, liberties, livelihoods and lives.” It further recognizes the “intergenerational trauma” that continues to plague the American Indians as a result of these atrocities. In an effort to acknowledge the genocide perpetrated on the American Indians and help heal the resulting intergenerational trauma that persists among them, the resolution calls upon congress to fund the American Indian Holocaust Memorial Museum. It also calls upon every state legislature to pass a similar resolution and encourages tribes throughout the nation to support the respective state resolutions where they reside.
It is altogether fitting and right that the people of Utah, through their Legislature, lead the nation in calling upon Congress to fund a holocaust memorial museum on behalf of the American Indians, especially the several tribes located in Utah. Considering its history, the state of Utah, as much any other state, should willingly extend a helping hand, lifting the American Indians up and out of the trauma created by generations of atrocities. Supporting the resolution is a small way to acknowledge the past and help heal the future for the rising generations of American Indian children. But there is even more that should be done inside Utah.
The intergenerational trauma reflected in the lives of Utah’s Indian children is significant and shocking. Utah’s Indian children fail and dropout of education at the highest rates of any other children in the state. Compared to others, these children experience the highest rates of poverty, drug and alcohol use, crime, teen pregnancies, abuse and suicide. The intergenerational trauma passed down to them is real and devastating. If that is not enough, compared to other states, the performance of governmental policies and programs, designed to help Utah’s Indian children, is among the worst.
Because of failed government policies and programs, problems persists that should have been remediated long ago, leaving generation after generation of Utah’s Indian children victimized into a life of despair and hopelessness. Government policies and programs need to be reformed. We cannot let past failures discourage efforts to help rescue Utah’s Indian children — our children. It would be unforgivable to abandon these children. We must expect more of ourselves — parents, tribal and government leaders, caseworkers, teachers, juvenile judges and other helping agencies must work more effectively together with a focus on children, applying data-proven reforms.
During this year’s legislative session, the Welfare Reform Commission was organized by statute to include the heads of Work Force Services, Education, Health Services, Human Services, Juvenile Justice and the Poverty Advisory Committee. This commission has been given the mandate to reform government policies and programs, establishing a model of intervention that is coordinated, data-driven and concentrated on rescuing children out of intergenerational poverty and failure. This commission of leaders should join with parents and tribal leaders to help rescue Utah’s Indian children out of the destructive, intergenerational cycle of trauma.
On behalf of Utah’s Indian children, the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee should actively coordinate its efforts with the Commission. Their combined focus on Utah’s Indian children can help eliminate the consequences from atrocities that inevitably have cascaded onto them, while lifting them up and restoring them to a place of promise.
For our children’s sake, Utah can and must do better for American Indians.
Stuart Reid is a Utah state senator representing District 18.
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