The Cultural Effects of Federally Mandated, Off-Reservation Boarding Schools on North American Indian Women

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Sennett, Molly
Cultural History; History of Gender; United States History; Women's History
thesis / dissertation description
This research examines federally mandated, off-reservation boarding schools and the experiences of American Indian women who attended them. The goal of these institutions was to assimilate American Indians and eradicate Native culture within a few generations of education. Women educated at these schools learned training that limited them socially and economically if they chose to join white society. Return to their native communities often resulted in rejection because of their lack years of assimilation. Women occupied a liminal space, belonging neither to white American society nor their Native society. This study compares this education with the education received by women who did grow up in their respective cultures. Coming of age rituals are a common practice in North American Indian tribes and are essential in the formation of identity and community; two essential steps in self-growth that women who attended boarding schools were limited in achieving.