An update on our reconciliation work

March 30, 2021

Dear FLC,

Over the last year and a half, the FLC History Committee has led a concerted introspection about our history as a federal Indian boarding school for Native American students who were forcibly removed from their families. We have made inroads in examining that history, in large part because of the Committee’s work in convening listening sessions on campus and in our community. These sessions were deeply meaningful, with students, faculty, staff, and community members, both Native and non-Native, who shared very personal stories and their feelings about our complex history and its impact on Indigenous peoples. These stories and shared trauma affirm the need for reconciliation, which we now turn toward.

Dean Jesse Peters and the FLC History Committee, on behalf of their contributing stakeholders, have recommended FLC remove the history panels beneath the Clocktower as soon as possible. Given the generational trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples as a result of boarding schools, I’ve asked Dr. Lee Bitsóí, AVP for Diversity Affairs and Special Advisor for Indigenous Affairs, to convene a group of Indigenous faculty, staff, and students to plan a ceremonial program for the removal of the panels at the start of the next academic year.

In its final report, the FLC History Committee outlined many important goals and opportunities for considering racial reconciliation on our campus. Some of this work has been taken up by other parts of FLC, most prominently the establishment of a campus-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan. Other aspects of the future goals of the Committee are still yet to be accomplished. To that end, I’ve asked Dr. Bitsóí to join Dean Peters as co-chair to convene the Committee to discuss what makes sense for the next phase of their work, including the planning of the ceremonial program for removing the panels from the Clocktower. The Provost and I will meet with the Committee in the summer to see what resources are needed to help move our work forward.

Please join me in thanking the FLC History Committee for their work over the last year and a half; they helped our community recognize and acknowledge the historical trauma invoked, as well as take a necessary first step toward healing.

Like you, I look forward to seeing the evolution of this work and our continued progress toward reconciliation.

Best, Tom

Tom Stritikus
Fort Lewis College