An image of students at the Chemawa Boarding school in Oregon, Apache students at the Carlisle Indian Boarding School, and the Flamdreau School Choir.

Boarding Schools


The recent news about the discovery of the Indigenous children's mass grave in Canada and 53 burial sites at U.S. Indian boarding schools is absolutely heartbreaking.

This will be a huge step for Canada and the United States to directly address. Until 2022, "the U.S. government had yet to provide any true accounting of the legacy of these schools, which used education to change culture so tribal land could be taken." In fact, several schools still in operation today are overseen by the BIE, like Chemawa and Flandreau, which are just two of the 52 BIE-operated schools. If the same type of digging took place into the history of those schools, it is likely the same type of horrors might be uncovered.

It's important to note that these are not the type of boarding schools or academies attended by non-Natives, such as the one in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. The 'Indian boarding school' in the USA is often an outlier of society that was largely used to follow General Pratt's theology of 'Kill the Indian, save the man' during the assimilation era of US policy. This is a very dark chapter in U.S. history, and not nearly enough attention has been given to the long-lasting impacts it has had on tribal communities.

The boarding schools turned out to be more work camps than learning ground. Today, we see more and more Native students applying for scholarships. Yet overall, there are still many barriers to Native education in this country. This is why we strongly believe that every youth counts. Every graduation matters. And the work we do is critically important.

To learn more about the history of boarding schools and how you can be an advocate for the truth, social justice and the removal of education barriers, download the Indian Boarding School Fact Sheet.

Topics discussed are:

  • When and why did the U.S. government start 'Indian' boarding schools?
  • How did the U.S. Indian boarding schools impact Native children?
  • How did the U.S. enforcement of boarding schools impact Native families?
  • Why are 'Indian' boarding schools such an untold story?
  • How can concerned citizens make a difference today?

More Resources:

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