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  • Writer's pictureNotes From The Frontier

"Kill the Indian, Save the Man" - The Horrors of Native Boarding Schools

Updated: Jan 14

In 2020, two massive graveyards were discovered in Canada--one of 751 graves, another of 215 graves, all of Native children--at defunct boarding schools designed to "reform" Native children into white society. Since them, the horrors of past forced enculturation of Native tribes in North American continue to be uncovered.

These photographs only begin to capture the tragically flawed philosophy of white North Americans, both in the U.S. and Canadian governments and cultures, about "civilizing" and "Christianizing" Native Americans. After tribes were decimated and forced onto reservations, Native children were essentially kidnapped from their families and forced to live at boarding schools designed to immerse them in European-American culture through forced change and stripping them of any indigenous cultural traditions and identity.

Children were forced to cut their hair, wear "white" clothing, speak English, were forbidden practicing their own religion, language, or traditions, and were subjected to strict military-like regimens enforced by corporal punishment.

The most famous boarding school for Native children and the flagship institution by which all other boarding schools throughout the country modeled themselves was The Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Its official motto: "Kill the Indian, Save the Man."

Horrific recent discoveries in Canada of massive graveyards of Native American children--one of 751 graves in Saskatchewan, another of 215 graves in British Columbia--reminds the world again of the barbaric practice of "enculturating" Indian children into white society in both the U.S. and Canada. Native leaders say they believe that tens of thousands of children died in these boarding "schools," from disease, squalid conditions, physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Most are now lost to history.

Here are links to news articles about the recent graveyard discoveries in Canada:

• 751 Native Children's Graves Discovered in Saskatchewan

• Second Massive Indigenous Graveyard Uncovered in Canada

You may also be interested in these related posts:

-Back from the Brink

-Vanishing Race

-The Heartbreaking Tale of Orphan Trains

"Kill the Indian, Save the Man" was first posted on Facebook and on April 2, 2020.

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Donna Nesset
Jun 27, 2021

I was one of the Boarding school "Indians'' Here in the US. So was My Mother. They, Did Kill The Indian.., She Died The Town Drunk. Wahpeton Indian School in North Dakota Destroyed Her. But They Didnt Destroy me.. I am still here . to tell my story. If i could just get someone to listen.


Richard Salvucci
Richard Salvucci
Jun 26, 2021

Thank you


Deborah Hufford

Author, Notes from the Frontier

Deborah Hufford is an award-winning author and magazine editor with a passion for history. Her popular blog with 100,000+ readers has led to an upcoming novel! Growing up as an Iowa farmgirl, rodeo queen and voracious reader, her love of land, lore and literature fired her writing muse. With a Bachelor's in English and Master's in Journalism from the University of Iowa, she taught students of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, then at Northwestern University, Marquette and Mount Mary. Her extensive publishing career began at Better Homes & Gardens, includes credits in New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Connoisseur, many other titles, and serving as publisher of The Writer's Handbook


Deeply devoted to social justice, especially for veterans, women, and Native Americans, she has served on boards and donated her fundraising skills to Chief Joseph Foundation, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), Homeless Veterans Initiative, Humane Society, and other nonprofits.  


Deborah's soon-to-be released historical novel, BLOOD TO RUBIES weaves indigenous and pioneer history, strong women and clashing worlds into a sweeping saga praised by NYT bestselling authors as "crushing," "rhapsodic," "gritty," and "sensuous." Purchase BLOOD TO RUBIES online beginning June 9. Connect with Deborah on, Facebook, and Instagram.

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