Indian boarding schools are a unique and important part of American history. Dating back to the 1830s, they were created as a way to assimilate Native American children into white society. While the intentions may have been good, the results were often disastrous. The schools were incredibly harsh, with students often enduring physical and psychological abuse. The legacy of the boarding school system is one of trauma and loss for many Native Americans. In recent years, there has been a growing movement to open up these schools to the public and give people the opportunity to learn about this important part of American history.
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Between the 1860s and 1996, when the last federally run boarding school closed, around 160,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and families to be educated in racially segregated institutions. According to a report released by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), these schools were little more than “concentration camps” and “the foundation of the government’s policy of cultural genocide.”This blog post will describe in harrowing detail the abuse Indigenous children suffered at the hands of Indian boarding schools.
1. Forced Removal
The boarding school system was officially introduced in the United States in 1861, when the first off-reservation boarding school, the Intertribal Boarding School on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska, opened its doors. In the following years, the number of boarding schools increased rapidly as the government sought to “civilize” Native Americans by forcibly removing them from their homes and families. By 1879,78 boarding schools were operating on reservations across the country.
The rationale for this policy was based on a racist and ignorant belief that Indigenous cultures and ways of life were inferior to those of white Americans. Children were taken from their families and communities to be educated in these schools hoping that they would one day assimilate into mainstream American society. The vast majority of these institutions were racially segregated, meaning that Indigenous children were educated alongside African American children who had also been forcibly removed from their homes and communities.
2. Abuse and Denial of Culture
The conditions in Indian boarding schools were often brutal and oppressive. They were a violation of global human rights. Students were routinely subjected to physical and emotional abuse by staff members, who sought to strip them of their Indigenous cultures and traditions. Students were forced to speak English, adopt European-style clothing, and participate in Christian ceremonies. They were also often forbidden from speaking their native languages or practicing their traditional religions.
3. Caregiving and Family Reunification
Since boarding schools were located far away from Indigenous communities, students often had little or no contact with their families during the school year. This often led to a sense of abandonment and grief among students, who often longed for simple things like being able to hug their parents or siblings. In some cases, students were not allowed to return home for holidays or even after they had completed their schooling. This caused immense psychological trauma that has had lasting effects on many Indigenous peoples to this day.
4. Linguistic Extinction
The assimilation policies of Indian boarding schools resulted in the near-extinction of many Indigenous languages. By the late 20th century, there were only a handful of Indigenous languages that still had speakers, with most of them located in the United States. This linguistic erosion has made it increasingly difficult for Indigenous peoples to pass their racial and ethnic traditions and cultures to the next generation.
This article provides a shocking first-hand account of the violence and abuse suffered by Indigenous children in Indian boarding schools. It also paints a grim picture of the future for these children and their communities. If you are horrified by what you have read and want to read about other news updates on global human rights news and updates, minority ethnic groups, conflicts, and civil war, check out our latest news updates.