Reading List: Indigenous Education Series

In light of the recent discovery of the remains of 215 children at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo, has announced a new initiative to delve into the records of federal boarding schools to search for possible burial sites of Native American children. For more than a century, thousands of Native American children were forcibly taken from their communities to be culturally assimilated in these schools; and now, the Department of the Interior seeks to shed light on what happened at these federal boarding schools with this new initiative.

UNP has published numerous books on the history of federal boarding schools in Canada and the United States as a part of our Indigenous Education series along with many others. Below is a suggested reading list.

Education beyond the Mesas by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Education beyond the Mesas is the fascinating story of how generations of Hopi schoolchildren from northeastern Arizona “turned the power” by using compulsory federal education to affirm their way of life and better their community. 

Carlisle Indian Industrial School edited by Jacqueline Fear-Segal and Susan D. Rose

Carlisle Indian Industrial School offers varied perspectives on the school by interweaving the voices of students’ descendants, poets, and activists with cutting-edge research by Native and non-Native scholars. These contributions reveal the continuing impact and vitality of historical and collective memory, as well as the complex and enduring legacies of a school that still affects the lives of many Native Americans.

This Benevolent Experiment by Andrew Woolford

Inspired by the signing of the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement in Canada, which provided a truth and reconciliation commission and compensation for survivors of residential schools, This Benevolent Experiment offers a multilayered, comparative analysis of Indigenous boarding schools in the United States and Canada. 

Indian Education in the American Colonies, 1607-1783 by Margaret Connell Szasz

Armed with Bible and primer, missionaries and teachers in colonial America sought, in their words, “to Christianize and civilize the native heathen.” Both the attempts to transform Indians via schooling and the Indians’ reaction to such efforts are closely studied for the first time in Indian Education in the American Colonies, 1607–1783.

White Man’s Club by Jacqueline Fear-Segal

Asking the reader to consider the legacy of nineteenth-century acculturation policies, White Man’s Club incorporates the life stories and voices of Native students and traces the schools’ powerful impact into the twenty-first century.

American Indians, the Irish, and Government Schooling by Michael C. Coleman

In the first full comparison of American and British government attempts to assimilate “problem peoples” through mass elementary education, Michael C. Coleman presents a complex and fascinating portrait of imperialism at work in the two nations.

Boarding School Blues edited by Clifford E. Trafzer, Jean A. Keller, and Lorene Sisquoc

The first volume of essays ever to focus on the American Indian boarding school experience, and written by some of the foremost experts and most promising young scholars of the subject, Boarding School Blues ranges widely in scope, addressing issues such as sports, runaways, punishment, physical plants, and Christianity.

Boarding School Seasons by Brenda J. Child

Boarding School Seasons offers a revealing look at the strong emotional history of Indian boarding school experiences in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Boarding School Voices by Arnold Krupat

Boarding School Voices is both an anthology of mostly unpublished writing by former students of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and a study of that writing. 

Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press edited by Jacqueline Emery


Recovering Native American Writings in the Boarding School Press is the first comprehensive collection of writings by students and well-known Native American authors who published in boarding school newspapers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Assimilation’s Agent by Edwin L. Chalcraft

Assimilation’s Agent illustrates the government’s long-term program for dealing with Native peoples and the shortcomings of its approach during one of the most consequential eras in the long and often troubled history of American Indian and white relations.

The Dakota Sioux Experience at Flandreau and Pipestone Indian Schools by Cynthia Leanne Landrum

The Dakota Sioux Experience at Flandreau and Pipestone Indian Schools illuminates the relationship between the Dakota Sioux community and the schools and surrounding region, as well as the community’s long-term effort to maintain its role as caretaker of the “sacred citadel” of its people.

America’s Second Tongue by Ruth Spack

This remarkable study sheds new light on American Indian mission, reservation, and boarding school experiences by examining the implementation of English-language instruction and its effects on Native students.

They Called It Prairie Light by K. Tsianina Lomawaima

In recollections juxtaposed against the official records of racist ideology and repressive practice, students from the 1920s and 1930s recall their loneliness and demoralization but also remember with pride the love and mutual support binding them together—the forging of new pan-Indian identities and reinforcement of old tribal ones.

The Middle Five by Francis La Flesche

The Middle Five, first published in 1900, is an account of Francis La Flesche’s life as a student in a Presbyterian mission school in northeastern Nebraska about the time of the Civil War.

Colonized through Art by Marinella Lentis

Colonized through Art explores how American Indian schools taught children to abandon their cultural heritage and produce artificially “native” crafts that were exhibited at local and international fairs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s