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American Indian Boarding Schools in the United States: A Brief History and Legacy

Lajimodiere, Denise K.

My interest in American Indian boarding school survivors’ stories evolved from recording my father, and other family members, speaking of their experiences. Stories I never knew existed, because they had all maintained silence on their experiences until I began asking questions. My qualitative interview research study of twenty American Indian boarding school survivors “Stringing Rosaries: A Qualitative Study of Sixteen Northern Plains American Indian Boarding School Survivors,” revealed four major themes, including: a) The participants attending boarding school experienced loss in the form of: loss of identity, language, culture, ceremonies and traditions; loss of self esteem; loneliness due to loss of parents and extended family; feeling of abandonment by parents; feeling lost and out of place when they returned home. b) The participants attending boarding school experienced abuse in the form of: corporal punishment; forced child labor; the Outing program; hunger/malnourished; and sexual and mental abuse. c) The participants experienced unresolved grief: maintaining silence; mental health issues, relationship issues and alcohol abuse. d) The participants expressed ways for healing in the form of: a return to Native spirituality and forgiveness.

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Indigenous Peoples’ Access To Justice, Including Truth And Reconciliation Processes
Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University

More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Published Here
March 26, 2015


This is a chapter from "Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Justice, Including Truth and Reconciliation Processes". The entire volume is available in Academic Commons at