Resources: Boarding and Residential Schools

Recommended Materials:
Government and Christian-run Boarding 
and Residential Schools for Native Students
(Originally published on Feb 11, 2008 as a blog post; 
Updated and published as a page on our menu bar on July 31, 2021)

The goal of boarding and residential schools in the United States and Canada was to "kill the Indian" and "save the man." Some characterize the schools as efforts to assimilate Native peoples into white society but beneath that effort was the goal of undermining our status as peoples of sovereign nations by removing our children so that we would cease to exist as Native People. If that occurred, all of our lands and resources would be fully available to non-Native people. 

In 2007, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established in Canada to document the harms of the residential schools there. We recommend you read through the TRC pages and subsequent writings that document its failures to achieve stated goals. In June of 2021, reports of hundreds of unmarked graves at residential schools were published. We recommend Why David A. Robertson curated a list of books about residential schools (published on June 24, 2021) for his response to news of these unmarked graves. On his list of 48 books, we are adding the ones we have read to our list below. 

In 2021, Deb Haaland (Acoma), Secretary of the Interior under President Biden, announced an initiative to examine the boarding schools in the U.S. There is some information available at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition

White writers have written books that whitewash the schools. Those books (by Ann Rinaldi and Eve Bunting) do not appear below. We have also found some books by writers (John Smelcer and Melanie Florence) who claim a Native identity to be problematic and they do not appear on our list.

As more resources and books are published on this topic, we will add them to this list. We recommend items listed here, and we welcome your suggestions. 


Picture Books
  • Callaghan, Jodie. The Train. Second Story Press, 2021.
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shi-shi-etko. Groundwood Books, 2005
  • Campbell, Nicola. Shin-shin's Canoe. Groundwood Books, 2008.
  • Dupuis, Jenny Kay. I Am Not A Number. Second Story Press, 2016.
  • Jordan-Fenton, Christy and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Fatty Legs: A True Story, Annick Press. 2010 and 2020.
  • LaFlesche, Francis. The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha TribeUniversity of Nebraska Press, 1978. (Originally published in 1900)
  • Loyie, Larry, and Constance Brissenden. As Long as the Rivers Flow: A Last Summer before Residential School. Groundwood Books, 2003.
  • Robertson, David A. When We Were Alone. Highwater Press. 2019.
  • Santiago, Chiori. Home to Medicine Mountain. Children’s Book Press, 1998.
  • Sterling, Shirley. My Name Is Seepeetza. Groundwood Books, 1998.

Books for Middle and/or High School Students
  • Dimaline, Cherie. The Marrow Thieves. DCB, 2017.
  • Mosionier, Beatrice. In Search of April Raintree. Pemmican Publications, 1983.
  • Qoyawayma, Polingaysi. No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman’s Struggle to Live in Two WorldsUniversity of New Mexico Press, 1977
  • Tohe, Laura. No Parole Today. West End Press, 1999.

  • Adams, David Wallace. Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928, University Press of Kansas, 1997
  • Archuleta, Margaret, Brenda J. Child, and K. Tsianina Lomawaima (Eds.) Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Experiences, Heard Museum, 2000
  • Child, Brenda. Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940University of Nebraska Press, 2000
  • Cobb, Amanda J. Listening to our Grandmothers' Stories: The Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females, 1852-1949. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000
  • Gilbert, Matthew Sakiestewa. Education Beyond the Mesas. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Basil. Indian School DaysUniversity of Oklahoma Press, 1995
  • Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School, University of Nebraska Press, 1995
  • Trafzer, Clifford E., Jean A. Keller, and Lorene Sisquoc. Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences, Bison Books, 2006.



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