Wednesday, July 26, 2006

American Indian Boarding Schools

I think that when most people hear "boarding school," they think of elite private schools, and perhaps they think of Hogwarts (Harry Potter's school).

Many assume, incorrectly, that the boarding schools the US Government set up for American Indians were much like the elite private schools, but that was not the case. The goal of American Indian boarding schools was to "kill the Indian" and "save the man." In Canada, the schools were called "residential schools."

These schools are the subject of many children's books. Unfortunately, they generally provide a white-washed view of the schools. The best example of this is Ann Rinaldi's My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl. To see an extensive review of the book, go here:

If you're interested in children's books on this topic, there are a few that I recommend:

Home to Medicine Mountain, by Chiori Santiago (picture book)
As Long as the Rivers Flow, by Larry Loyie (middle grades)
My Name is Seepeetza, by Shirley Sterling (middle grades)
No Parole Today, by Laura Tohe (poetry for high school)

You may also be interested in non-fiction titles more appropriate for adult readers:
Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, 1879-2000, by Margaret Archuleta, Brenda Child, and K. Tsianina Lomawaima. Also see Child's book Boarding School Seasons, and Lomawaima's They Called it Prairie Light.


Anonymous said...

I am especially interested in authentic literature for children since there is so much stereotyping in our world. I really like Oyate materials. Since I live about one hour from the former Carlisle Indian School, in PA, I have investigated their webpage, etc. Can you believe that school is now the Carlisle War College, a school where you can do military research, etc. Some things never change. The following was found on the webpage of the former Carlisle Indian School and I like it.
"If Great Spirit had desired me
to be a white man
he would have made me so
in the first place.
He put in your heart
certain wishes and plans;
in my heart he put
other and different desires.
Each man is good
in the sight of the Great Spirit.
It is not necessary,
that eagles should be crows."
..Sitting Bull (Teton Sioux)


jcrit said...

Thanks for the great blog!

Living in the Navajo Nation, I am able to hear first-hand accounts about the rigors of boarding school life. You may be interested in taking a look at a webquest (online lesson) on the subject of on- and off-reservation boarding schools.
Boarding School Weblog

Debbie Reese said...


The link you provided does not work. Can you try again?


jcrit said...

Here it is again, don't know why it failed.
Boarding School webquest

Here it is as a copy/paste: