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Sioux children on their first day of school, 1897. Library of Congress.

How the US Stole Thousands of Native American Children (Video)

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During the late 19th century, the United States implemented a deeply troubling practice that involved the removal of thousands of Native American children from their families and tribes. These children were forcibly enrolled in off-reservation boarding schools, a method employed by the US government to assimilate Native American communities into mainstream American society. This process aimed to eradicate indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions, ultimately causing severe cultural and emotional damage to the affected individuals.

As indigenous activism gained momentum and public awareness grew, the off-reservation boarding schools were gradually phased out. However, instead of ending the assimilation efforts altogether, a new method emerged: the promotion of Native American children's adoption into white families. This practice furthered the goal of assimilation by placing these children in environments where their cultural identity and heritage were often neglected or denied.

The repercussions of these actions are profound and continue to impact Native American communities to this day. The forced removal and assimilation of thousands of children deprived them of their ancestral knowledge, disrupted intergenerational transmission of traditions, and contributed to the erosion of indigenous cultures.

Top image: Sioux children on their first day of school, 1897. Library of Congress.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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