[Congressional Bills 111th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S.J. Res. 14 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

  1st Session
S. J. RES. 14

    To acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-
 conceived policies by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes 
  and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United 



                             April 30, 2009

  Mr. Brownback (for himself, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Baucus, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. 
  Crapo, Ms. Cantwell, Mr. Coburn, Mr. Harkin, Mr. Lieberman, and Mr. 
Tester) introduced the following joint resolution; which was read twice 
            and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs


                            JOINT RESOLUTION

    To acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-
 conceived policies by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes 
  and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United 

Whereas the ancestors of today's Native Peoples inhabited the land of the 
        present-day United States since time immemorial and for thousands of 
        years before the arrival of people of European descent;
Whereas for millennia, Native Peoples have honored, protected, and stewarded 
        this land we cherish;
Whereas Native Peoples are spiritual people with a deep and abiding belief in 
        the Creator, and for millennia Native Peoples have maintained a powerful 
        spiritual connection to this land, as evidenced by their customs and 
Whereas the arrival of Europeans in North America opened a new chapter in the 
        history of Native Peoples;
Whereas while establishment of permanent European settlements in North America 
        did stir conflict with nearby Indian tribes, peaceful and mutually 
        beneficial interactions also took place;
Whereas the foundational English settlements in Jamestown, Virginia, and 
        Plymouth, Massachusetts, owed their survival in large measure to the 
        compassion and aid of Native Peoples in the vicinities of the 
Whereas in the infancy of the United States, the founders of the Republic 
        expressed their desire for a just relationship with the Indian tribes, 
        as evidenced by the Northwest Ordinance enacted by Congress in 1787, 
        which begins with the phrase, ``The utmost good faith shall always be 
        observed toward the Indians'';
Whereas Indian tribes provided great assistance to the fledgling Republic as it 
        strengthened and grew, including invaluable help to Meriwether Lewis and 
        William Clark on their epic journey from St. Louis, Missouri, to the 
        Pacific Coast;
Whereas Native Peoples and non-Native settlers engaged in numerous armed 
        conflicts in which unfortunately, both took innocent lives, including 
        those of women and children;
Whereas the Federal Government violated many of the treaties ratified by 
        Congress and other diplomatic agreements with Indian tribes;
Whereas the United States forced Indian tribes and their citizens to move away 
        from their traditional homelands and onto federally established and 
        controlled reservations, in accordance with such Acts as the Act of May 
        28, 1830 (4 Stat. 411, chapter 148) (commonly known as the ``Indian 
        Removal Act'');
Whereas many Native Peoples suffered and perished--

    (1) during the execution of the official Federal Government policy of 
forced removal, including the infamous Trail of Tears and Long Walk;

    (2) during bloody armed confrontations and massacres, such as the Sand 
Creek Massacre in 1864 and the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890; and

    (3) on numerous Indian reservations;

Whereas the Federal Government condemned the traditions, beliefs, and customs of 
        Native Peoples and endeavored to assimilate them by such policies as the 
        redistribution of land under the Act of February 8, 1887 (25 U.S.C. 331; 
        24 Stat. 388, chapter 119) (commonly known as the ``General Allotment 
        Act''), and the forcible removal of Native children from their families 
        to faraway boarding schools where their Native practices and languages 
        were degraded and forbidden;
Whereas officials of the Federal Government and private United States citizens 
        harmed Native Peoples by the unlawful acquisition of recognized tribal 
        land and the theft of tribal resources and assets from recognized tribal 
Whereas the policies of the Federal Government toward Indian tribes and the 
        breaking of covenants with Indian tribes have contributed to the severe 
        social ills and economic troubles in many Native communities today;
Whereas despite the wrongs committed against Native Peoples by the United 
        States, Native Peoples have remained committed to the protection of this 
        great land, as evidenced by the fact that, on a per capita basis, more 
        Native Peoples have served in the United States Armed Forces and placed 
        themselves in harm's way in defense of the United States in every major 
        military conflict than any other ethnic group;
Whereas Indian tribes have actively influenced the public life of the United 
        States by continued cooperation with Congress and the Department of the 
        Interior, through the involvement of Native individuals in official 
        Federal Government positions, and by leadership of their own sovereign 
        Indian tribes;
Whereas Indian tribes are resilient and determined to preserve, develop, and 
        transmit to future generations their unique cultural identities;
Whereas the National Museum of the American Indian was established within the 
        Smithsonian Institution as a living memorial to Native Peoples and their 
        traditions; and
Whereas Native Peoples are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 
        rights, and among those are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: 
        Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United 
States of America in Congress assembled,


    (a) Acknowledgment and Apology.--The United States, acting through 
            (1) recognizes the special legal and political relationship 
        Indian tribes have with the United States and the solemn 
        covenant with the land we share;
            (2) commends and honors Native Peoples for the thousands of 
        years that they have stewarded and protected this land;
            (3) recognizes that there have been years of official 
        depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of 
        covenants by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes;
            (4) 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;
            (5) expresses its regret for the ramifications of former 
        wrongs and its commitment to build on the positive 
        relationships of the past and present 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;
            (6) urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the 
        United States against Indian tribes in the history of the 
        United States in order to bring healing to this land; and
            (7) commends the State governments that have begun 
        reconciliation efforts with recognized Indian tribes located in 
        their boundaries and encourages all State governments similarly 
        to work toward reconciling relationships with Indian tribes 
        within their boundaries.
    (b) Disclaimer.--Nothing in this Joint Resolution--
            (1) authorizes or supports any claim against the United 
        States; or
            (2) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United