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When Will The US Acknowledge The Traumatic Legacy Of Its Indian Boarding Schools?

U.S. National Archives
U.S. National Archives
Photograph of Chiracahua Apache Indians after training at the Carlisle Indian School, the first federally run Indian boarding school in the US.

On this edition of Your Call, we’re discussing the roots of Indian boarding schools in the US, which were a model for Canada’s residential schools. The US hasn’t kept documentation of the true number of boarding schools, but historians believe there were more than 350 — twice as many as in Canada.

Researchers also believe there are similar burial sites at US boarding schools. Native communities are calling on the US to finally acknowledge its role in attempting to destroy Native cultures, languages, and families.


Mary Annette Pember, citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Wisconsin Ojibwe and national correspondent for Indian Country Today. Her mother Bernice was a survivor of the Saint Mary’s Catholic Indian Boarding School on the Ojibwe reservation in Odanah, Wisconsin.

Web Resources:

Indian Country Today, Mary Annette Pember: 'We won't forget about the children'

The Atlantic, Mary Annette Pember: Death by Civilization

Type Investigations, Mary Annette Pember: The Catholic Church Siphoned Away $30 Million Paid to Native People for Stolen Land

NPR: U.S. Boarding Schools Were The Blueprint For Indigenous Family Separation In Canada

The Washington Post, Deb Haaland: My grandparents were stolen from their families as children. We must learn about this history.

PBS, Sarah Elliott: Understanding the Origin of American Indian Boarding Schools

Lea is a producer for Your Call on KALW Local Public Radio. She graduated from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in 2018.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.