Boarding School Seasons

SKU: 0803264054

Brenda J. Child
Grade Levels:
College, University
Multiple Nations, Ojibwe
Book Type:
Nebraska Press
Copyright Date:

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Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940 by Red Lake Ojibwa scholar Brenda Child explores the impact of boarding/residential schools on Native students. She was particularly drawn to personal letters written between children and their parents about their education received at Flandreau, Haskell, and Pipestone boarding schools in the early years of the twentieth century. Inspired by the boarding school experiences of her great-grandparents, Child chose to focus on the content of these letters that were located in archival collections. Originally focused only on her home community of Red Lake Reservation, she found additional material in correspondence between Native students from other tribal communities during this time period. The book is organized by subject themes revealed in these letters. Beginning with the idea of pan-Indianism that occurred when students from a variety of tribal communities attended these three boarding schools, the remaining chapters cover the trip from home to the boarding school, homesickness, illness and death, working for the school, running away, and graduation. This slim volume often identifies students by their first names only and often clearly identifies the parents of the students. Interesting to note are the themes that are omitted including sexual abuse and the curriculum studied. Nevertheless this book is an important contribution to the literature about boarding and residential schools. Resisting the need to document oral testimony, this author remained focused on her source limitations. In the end, the book delivers a unique Native student and parent perspective not seen in the residential school literature. The book contains several archival photographs of students attending the boarding schools as well as lists of Red Lake students who attended non-reservation schools in 1929, Flandreau enrollment statistics, and tribal names of students on the grave markers in the Haskell Institute cemetery.

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