The truth about the US Indian boarding school policy has largely been written out of the history books. There were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Indian Boarding schools across the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. Indian children were forcibly abducted by government agents, sent to schools hundreds of miles away, and beaten, starved, or otherwise abused when they spoke their native languages.
“I was four years old when stolen and taken to Chemawa, Oregon. The matron grabbed me and my sister, stripped off our clothes laid us in a trough and scrubbed our genitals with lye soap, yelling at us that we were ‘filthy savages, dirty.’ I had to walk on my tip toes screaming in pain.” – Elsie, Yakima (Interview by Dr. Denise Lajimodiere)
Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart describes historical trauma as “…the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over one’s lifetime and from generation to generation following loss of lives, land and vital aspects of culture.” – The American Indian holocaust: Healing historical unresolved grief.
Research and resources about the Boarding School era are spread out all over Indian Country. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) has dedicated resources to creating an online database of research and information on the work being done around the U.S. and Canada on Indian boarding schools. Visit our free Research Database to explore a variety of curated materials on boarding schools. Become a member (also free for individuals) and gain access to our interactive portal where you can share additional resources and discuss the current information we've made available.