As part of United States assimilation policies, Indian boarding schools were operated across the United States, allegedly starting with the Carlyle School in Pennsylvania
My mother attended the Seneca Indian School in Wyandotte Oklahoma for nine years from about 1931-1940
About the Boarding School Experience:
In the late 1800s, policy makers assumed the Indians would change if they were kept away from their traditional ways. Reformers believed that with the proper education and treatment, Indians could become just like other citizens. They convinced the leaders of Congress that education could change at least some of the Indian population into patriotic and productive members of society. For the government, it was a possible solution to the so-called “Indian problem.”
“The early boarding school era was not pleasurable by any means for the first American Indian students who experienced it,” said Phyllis Wahahrockah-Tasi, CNMCC Executive Director. “Students had their hair cut short and their traditional clothing was replaced with daily uniforms. They were also made to participate in mandatory military-style marching drills,” Wahahrockah-Tasi said. The children were immediately taught English and were forced to speak their new language at all times. Use of native language was strictly forbidden and harsh punishment often ensued for those who broke the rules. In some cases, students were whipped for being disobedient. This type of punishment was foreign to the students for Indian parents never struck their children. Indians considered whipping a disgrace and believed it broke a child’s proud spirit.
“The boarding school experience helped shaped our American Indian people into what we have become today. Just about every Indian in southwest Oklahoma has some tie to Fort Sill Indian School. Our ancestors endured a lot. This exhibit pays tribute them and every other FSIS student who rose from the unpleasantness to make the school into a proud institution of learning for American Indians from all across the country.” Wahahrockah-Tasi said.