From around the 1880s to the 1980s Indian children were forcibly removed from their homes and their tribes and placed in “educational institutions” or “boarding schools”. In these schools, the were forced to speak only English, practice only Christianity, and wear only “white” clothes. They were brutally punished for speaking their own languages. Essentially, the US and Canadian governments set about a policy of cultural genocide against the indigenous people in their countries. Over half of the children who were subjected to this forced “learning” did not survive. They died of disease, malnutrition and most likely destroyed spirits. It is heartbreaking to read.
Ward Churchill has done his research on this topic and knows his stuff. Most of what he brings to light angers me beyond belief. It is a shame, however, that Churchill tends to be unable to write in a layman’s style language and give the facts life. His writing is tedious and overly scholarly, if you know what I mean. I’ve very much enjoyed reading this part of our hidden history, and will likely look for memoirs from actual victims of the institutions.