President Obama Signs Native American Apology Resolution
President Barack Obama signed the Native American Apology Resolution 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.
The Apology Resolution had originally been sponsored in the Senate by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) as S.J. Res. 14. A companion measure, H.J. Res. 46, was also been introduced in the House by Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK) earlier this year. Senator Brownback successfully added the Apology Resolution to the Defense Appropriations Act as an amendment on the Senate floor on October 1, 2009.
Senator Brownback said that he introduced the measure “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the US Government toward the Native Peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.”
The Apology Resolution states that the United States, “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 Apology Resolution also “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.”
The Apology Resolution comes with a disclaimer that nothing in the Resolution authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States and that the Resolution does not settle any claims against the United States.
The Apology Resolution does not include the lengthy Preamble that was part of S.J Res. 14 introduced earlier this year by Senator Brownback. The Preamble recites the history of U.S. – tribal relations including the assistance provided to the settlers by Native Americans, the killing of Indian women and children, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, the Sand Creek Massacre, and Wounded Knee, the theft of tribal lands and resources, the breaking of treaties, and the removal of Indian children to boarding schools.