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Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories: In the Library

Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories

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Cover: black and white images of a Native American male

Education for Extinction

The last "Indian War" was fought against Native American children in the dormitories and classrooms of government boarding schools. Only by removing Indian children from their homes for extended periods of time, policymakers reasoned, could white "civilization" take root while childhood memories of "savagism" gradually faded to the point of extinction. In the words of one official: "Kill the Indian and save the man." Education for Extinction offers the first comprehensive account of this dispiriting effort.

Cover: blackand white picture of two Native American boys holding hens

Boarding School Blues

Like the figures in the ancient oral literature of Native Americans, children who lived through the American Indian boarding school experience became heroes, bravely facing a monster not of their own making. Sometimes the monster swallowed them up. More often, though, the children fought the monster and grew stronger. This volume draws on the full breadth of this experience in showing how American Indian boarding schools provided both positive and negative influences for Native American children. The boarding schools became an integral part of American history, a shared history that resulted in Indians "turning the power" by using their school experiences to grow in wisdom and benefit their people.

Cover: human skulls of every size on the top half of the page; bottom half is a gentleman standing in front of a screen, talking to two seated subjects

The the Art of Americanization at the Carlisle Indian School

Established by an act of Congress in 1879, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in central Pennsylvania was conceived as a paramilitary residential boarding school that would solve the then-pressing "Indian Question" by forcibly assimilating and Americanizing Native American youth. A major part of this process was the "before and after" portrait, which displayed the individual in his or her allegedly degenerate state before Americanization, and then again following its conclusion. In this historical study, Mauro analyzes the visual imagery produced at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School as a specific instance of the aesthetics of Americanization at work. His work combines a consideration of cultural contexts and themes specific to the United States of the time and critical theory to flesh out innovative historical readings of the photographic materials.

Cover: cartoon photo of a young Thorpe hold a football

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an astonishing underdog sports story--and more. It's an unflinching look at the U.S. government's violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by three-time National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin, it's the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat. Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American Pop Warner; Indomitable coach, football mastermind and Ivy League grad.

Cover: Native American children sitting in pews in a room

To Win the Indian Heart

Since 1879, Indian children from all regions of the United States have entered federal boarding schools'institutions designed to assimilate them into mainstream society. Chemawa Indian School in western Oregon, one of the nation's oldest and the longest still in continuous operation, is an emblem of a system that has intimately impacted countless lives and communities. In To Win the Indian Heart: Music at Chemawa Indian School, Melissa Parkhurst records the history of the school's musical life. She explores the crucial role music was meant to play in the total transformation of Indian children, and the cultural recovery and resiliency it often inspired instead. Parkhurst chronicles the complex ways in which students, families, faculty, and administrators employed music, both as a tool for assimilation and, conversely, as a vehicle for student "resistance' a subject long overlooked in literature on Indian education and the assimilation campaign. 

Cover: Cartoon of four school girls in uniforms standing in the snow; one is wearing red leggings

Fatty Legs

Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls -- all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl's determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.

Cover: cartoon drawing of a young child standing in front of and adult wearing a large cross

Children Left Behind

In The Children Left Behind, Tim Giago weaves memoir, commentary, reflection and poetry together to boldly illustrate his often horrific experiences as a child at an Indian Mission boarding school run by the Catholic Church. Through his words, the experience of one Indian child becomes a metaphor for the experience of many Indian children, who were literally ripped from their tribal roots and torn from their families for nine months of the year in order to be molded to better fit into mainstream America. They were not allowed to speak their own languages or follow their traditional customs. As a result of this traumatic and divisive policy, the Mission school experience for most young Indians resulted in isolation, confusion, and intense psychological pain, as they were forced to reject their own culture and spirituality. This has contributed to problems including alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence and general alienation in an entire generation of Native Americans. Dramatic and in

Cover: black and white photograph of two row of student taking a class picture

Boarding School Seasons

Boarding School Seasons offers a revealing look at the strong emotional history of Indian boarding school experiences in the first half of the twentieth century. At the heart of this book are the hundreds of letters written by parents, children, and school officials at Haskell Institute in Kansas and the Flandreau School in South Dakota. These revealing letters show how profoundly entire families were affected by their experiences. Children, who often attended schools at great distances from their communities, suffered from homesickness, and their parents from loneliness. Parents worried continually about the emotional and physical health and the academic progress of their children. Families clashed repeatedly with school officials over rampant illnesses and deplorable living conditions and devised strategies to circumvent severely limiting visitation rules.

Cover: Seven men playing football

Carlisle vs. Army

This story begins with the infamous massacre of the Sioux at Wounded Knee, in 1890, then moves to rural Pennsylvania and the Carlisle Indian School, an institution designed to “elevate” Indians by uprooting their youths and immersing them in the white man’s ways. Foremost among those ways was the burgeoning sport of football. In 1903 came the man who would mold the Carlisle Indians into a juggernaut: Glenn “Pop” Warner, the son of a former Union Army captain. Guided by Warner, a tireless innovator and skilled manager, the Carlisle eleven barnstormed the country, using superior team speed, disciplined play, and tactical mastery to humiliate such traditional powerhouses as Harvard, Yale, Michigan, and Wisconsin–and to, along the way, lay waste American prejudices against Indians. When a troubled young Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma named Jim Thorpe arrived at Carlisle, Warner sensed that he was in the presence of greatness. While still in his teens, Thorpe dazzled his opponents and gained fans across the nation.

Away from Home

From the 1870s to the present day, Indian children of all ages, from thousands of homes, from hundreds of diverse tribes and reservations, have entered federal boarding schools. Indian students' experiences at boarding schools have been as diverse as the students themselves. For some, the federal government's attempts to eradicate "Indianness" were unbearable; for some, tragically, they were successful. For others, time at a boarding school represented a chance to simply get an education, or to gain knowledge of other Native cultures and celebrate all that it means to be Indian.

Frontier Blood

Drawing on a wealth of contemporary accounts, including several first-person stories, Jo Ella Powell Exley follows Cynthia Ann-Parker--a descendant of Elder John Parker--last of the great Comanche war chiefs-- through her life in the Indian camp and eventually her recapture by her birth family. She also tells the dramatic story of Quanah Parker through childhood, battle, surrender, and reservation life.   This narrative sets straight a story that has sometimes been distorted, offering new insight of Cynthia Ann Parker's last years, providing a complex picture of the "white" years of a woman who had matured among the Comanches since the age of nine. Among the documents from which Exley draws are a short autobiography of Daniel Parker, Rachel Parker Plummer's two narratives of her Indian captivity, James Parker's account of his search for Rachel and the other captives and several autobiographical accounts Quanah dictated to his friends.     


Five blue tricolored feathers floating in the air

“For Indigenous people, our education didn’t begin with government institutions. Our education didn’t begin with Christian missionaries or Christian schools. Native people have some of the longest, the oldest forms of education in the Americas, and throughout history Native people have drawn upon that history and used it to enlighten the world, and used it to help them understand the situations they find themselves in, and they used it so that they can look ahead toward the future.”

-Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, interview, August 23, 2017