Indian Boarding Schools in the United States

Indian boarding schools have long stood as the iconic institution designed by colonial settler states to “erase and replace” Native American cultures with European American values and practices. These oppressive, totalitarian institutions aimed to strip away tribal identity and knowledge, and remake Indian people into Christian, “civilized,” and subordinate individuals laboring for others in a racially segregated society. Conceived as standardizing engines of cultural destruction and individual transformation, in truth the schools varied over time and region. Deeply affecting student experiences similarly varied widely over time and space. Boarding schools were not monolithically successful in their erase-and-replace goals, nor were they monolithically destructive of Indian people, but a harsh reality must never be forgotten: For some individuals, the schools were completely devastating. Many children ...

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