Students look at photos and newspaper articles about American Indian Boarding Schools and discuss what life was like as a student. As a take-home assignment, students research more on their own and write a journal entry as if they had just completed school; in their entry, they decide whether they will continue school or go back to their Indian culture.
This lesson is part of "Great States | North Dakota Unit 3: American Indians", where students will determine how American Indians were able to thrive before the arrival of Europeans in North Dakota.
4.2: Students understand important historical events.
8.2.10: Analyze the rationale for western expansion and how it affected minorities (e.g. reservations, Indian Removal Act, treaties, Chinese Exclusion Act, Dawes Act, Manifest Destiny, Homestead Act.).
- Primary Source Set: American Indian Boarding Schools
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or other type of screen to project the resources to the class
- Class set of American Indian Boarding School Journal handout
- Notebooks or loose-leaf paper
Before class, take time to review the materials from the Primary Source Set: American Indian Boarding Schools.
Explain to students that the boarding schools were designed to educate and assimilate American Indian Children to US/European culture. American Indian students were forced to abandon their names, culture, and identities. Schools were run mostly by Christian missionaries. Explain to students that the class will be viewing various primary sources such as images, pamphlets, and bulletins from various American Indian Boarding Schools. [Note that while resources available come from a variety of states, the experiences are similar and representative of the American Indian Boarding Schools that North Dakota had.]
Project various resources from the Primary Source Set: American Indian Boarding Schools. You can pick and choose which you want to show, but a good combination of examples could include:
“A 1912 weekly outline and lesson plan for the Upper Lake Day School for Native Americans in California.” [transcription offered below image]
Have students take notes on life in the boarding schools as you go through the material.
Provide students with the American Indian Boarding School Journal handout. Instruct students to imagine they have just finished a year at an American Indian Boarding School, and they have to make a decision to stay or return to their culture. Students will need to spend some time researching American Indian life at the time, apart from boarding school. Using information gleaned from the source documents and their research, students should write a journal entry describing their choice and the reasons behind it.
For further information, see the Digital Public Library of America Teaching Guide: Exploring American Indian Boarding Schools.