development and environmentalism n.
Skip this Video
Loading SlideShow in 5 Seconds..
Development and Environmentalism PowerPoint Presentation
Download Presentation
Development and Environmentalism

Loading in 2 Seconds...

play fullscreen
1 / 110

Development and Environmentalism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

Development and Environmentalism. Exploitation/domination/ etc comes frequently in the form of core-based multinational corporations causing economic change in periphery cultures (i.e.: Shell Oil and Nigeria).

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Development and Environmentalism' - dusty

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
development and environmentalism
Development and Environmentalism
  • Exploitation/domination/

etc comes frequently in the form of core-based multinational corporations causing economic change in periphery cultures (i.e.: Shell Oil and Nigeria).

  • It should be noted that even well-intentioned interference (such as the environmentalist movement) may be treated as a form of cultural domination by subject populations (i.e.: people being told how to use their traditional resources, as seen in the readings for this week).
poverty and repression
Poverty and Repression
  • The vast majority of the world’s indigenous population of 370 million people live in extreme poverty (i.e. do not have ready access to food and clean water), are discriminated against (at the very least politically), and have been subjected to the theft and plunder of their land and traditional habitats (broken treaties, democide).
  • World Systems Theory
    • Core/Periphery relationship
    • Conflict theory
    • Current economic system
cultural extinction
Cultural Extinction
  • Physical extinction is only the beginning…
  • Threat of cultural extinction also comes from migration and urbanization
  • Migration and urbanization often result in:
    • New family organization (inability to maintain solidarity)
    • New economic organization (wage-based)
    • New religious organization (various factors, including health)
biomedical imperialism
Biomedical Imperialism
  • Indigenous peoples who live in isolation have no system of special protection from contact with outsiders who can expose them to viruses.
    • Indigenous treatment systems vs. biomedical treatment systems
    • Distrust of changing systems
    • Lack of funding
    • Lack of cultural awareness
environmental imperialism
Environmental Imperialism
  • The symptoms of climate change are felt especially intensely in indigenous communities and harm their means of subsistence acquisition.
  • Periphery countries and resource use
  • Industrial pollution
  • Impact of climate change on animal migration routes, growth patterns, etc impact periphery countries.
language imperialism
Language Imperialism
  • The extinction of indigenous languages (especially in the next 100 years) is advancing in a subtle and almost imperceptible manner.
  • Imagine for a moment all the ways a language can die…
  • Just one example…the responsibility for the survival of language lies primarily with parents, who as culture bearers are the link between the past and the future.

Disempowered woman are the major target of discrimination, mistreatment, physical and sexual assault, prostitution, and sexually-transmitted diseases among indigenous cultures world-wide

  • How can they transmit their identity, culture, and language to their offspring under these often new and very challenging conditions?
why should we explore this topic
Why should we explore this topic?

- to study the condition of different types of economic activities of indigenous peoples as the basis for the preservation of their traditional nature use and socio-cultural values, as well as their main source of income; DIVERSITY!!!!

- to identify the level of ethno-social destruction – unemployment, poverty, growth of deviant behavior, etc…

- to analyze the process of marginalization of mass consciousness regarding the fundamentals of the future development of indigenous people locally and all people globally

causes of conflict
Causes of Conflict
  • When development threatens indigenous peoples and their environments (e.g., Brazilian example of the Yanomami).
  • When external relations threaten indigenous peoples (e.g., Nigeria, where international corporations impact traditional subsistence life-ways, examples from Kurdish history, etc).
resistance and survival
Resistance and Survival
  • Systems of Domination
    • Various theories answering questions like “why do people fight, why do people capitulate, etc…”
  • Scott (1990) differentiates between public and hidden transcripts of culturally and politically oppressed peoples.
    • Public transcript refers to the open, public interactions between dominators and the oppressed.
    • Hidden transcript refers to the critique of power that goes on offstage, where the dominators cannot see it.

Scott, J C (1990). Domination and the Arts of Resistance: The Hidden Transcript of Subordinate Groups


Gramsci’s (1971) notion of hegemony describes a politically hierarchical system where the dominant ideology of the “elite” has been internalized by the lower classes.

  • Bourdieu (1977) and Foucault (1979) both argue it is much easier to control people's minds than try to control their bodies…
  • For example…what stops people from walking on the lawns here at SJSU?
    • Gramsci, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks
    • Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice
    • Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
weapons of the weak
Weapons of the Weak
  • As James Scott’s work on peasants suggests, oppressed groups may use subtle, non-confrontational methods to resist various forms of domination.
    • In Scotts work, Malay peasants protest the introduction of combine harvesters, steal things, and kill animals.
    • Consider the little things you do to resist your mom, your boss, your instructor, etc…

Examples of antiauthoritarian discourse include rituals (e.g., Carnival, the caroling/wassailing celebrations), folk literature (Robin Hood, etc), and oral traditions (stories of revolt by someone else).


Resistance is more likely to be public when the oppressed come together in groups (for example anti-assembly laws of the antebellum South, or perhaps modern “Free Speech Zones”).

cultural imperialism
Cultural Imperialism
  • Cultural imperialism refers to the spread of one culture at the expense of others, usually because of differential economic or political influence (the Manifest Destiny period of American history, Soviet Russia, etc).
  • While mass media, popular culture, food technology, etc have contributed to the erosion of local cultures, they are increasingly being used as media for the outward diffusion of local cultures (e.g., sushi, Bollywood, youtube, etc)
a world system of images
A World System of Images
  • Mass media can spread and create national and ethnic identities.
  • Mass media plays an important role in maintaining ethnic and national identities among people who lead transnational lives.
    • Cable television…sports, culture, news, etc
a transnational culture of consumption
A TransnationalCulture of Consumption
  • As with mass media, the flow of capital has become decentralized, carrying with it the cultural influences of many different sources (e.g., the wage earners in the United States, Japan, Britain, Canada, Germany sending money and culture back to host countries).
  • Migrant labor also contributes to cultural diffusion (both host and guest counties).
  • Globalizationreferstotheincreasingconnectedness of theworld and itspeoples.
  • Withthis “connectedness”, however, come new bases foridentities (e.g., theKurdishidentitypresent in variousnation-states).
  • “Postmodernmoment”…an idea of personal examplesbearingout global linkages (commoditychains, etc).
the continuance of diversity
The Continuance of Diversity
  • Anthropology has a crucial role to play in promoting a more humanistic vision of social change, one that respects the value of cultural diversity.
  • The existence of anthropology is itself a tribute to the continuing need to understand social and cultural similarities and differences.
  • As an anthropology instructor, I am happy to provide your various majors with an “area studies” option 
effects of anthropology
Effects of Anthropology
  • Why no bigger effect on indigenous survival?
    • Before the modern era, more research than applied work.
    • With a couple very rare aberrations, data published in Social Science Journals do not have much effect on Policy makers….

Conflict between Policy and Anthropology

    • Cultural relativism and holism important, but it is not economically fesiable…
    • Ethnographic studies can take a long time, often policy makers want answers right away.
    • Tensions between anthropolgical ethics and governmental policy .
the peopling of oceania
The Peopling of Oceania

The region of Oceania is comprised of Australia, Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

The original inhabitants of this vast area included Aborigines, Melanesians, and Austronesians.

First arrived from Southeast Asia about 60,000 years ago.

The various forms of social organization and isolation gave rise to a large diversity of languages and customs among indigenous groups in the region.

the australian aborigines
The Australian Aborigines

Uniquely successful

Perhaps 40,000 to 60,000 years of inhabitation…

VERY SUSTAINABLE - Staying within “carrying capacity”

Flexibility in social organization

australian aborigines
Australian Aborigines…

Little changes in population size; no full scale farming.

No depletion of resources? Spiritually controlled…

4-7 hours work per day in gathering & cooking

Efficiency in resource use

aboriginal sustainability
Aboriginal sustainability?

Broad spectrum Subsistence.

Seafood on coasts; grass seeds, lizards, kangaroo, moths, witchity grubs.

Population control via varied methods common to foragers

australian aborigines1
Australian Aborigines…

digging stick,


spearthrower (the woomera),

stone blades,



fire making tools (spear thrower shaft, generally pressure tool)

c dilly bag
c. “Dilly Bag”

What is it? How is it used?

australian aborigines2
Australian Aborigines…

The Dreaming…



Balance of all things




Prehistorical period during which the natural environment was shaped and humanized by the actions of mythic beings.

Many of these beings took the form of human beings or of animals (“totemic”); some changed their forms.

They were credited with having established the local social order and its “laws.”


'Dreamtime' or 'Dreaming' has never been a direct translation of an Aboriginal word. The English language does not know an equivalent to express the complex Aboriginal spiritual concepts to white people.

Aboriginal languages contain a lot of words for spirituality and beliefs, such as:

tjurkurrpa, jukurrpa, tjurgurba (Pitjantjatjara people, north-western South Australia),

altjeringa, alcheringa, alchera, aldjerinya (Arrernte people, central Australia),




ungud (Ngarinyin people, north-Western Australia),

wongar (north eastern Arnhem Land),

bugari (Broome, north-Western Australia).


Aboriginal spirituality does not consider the 'Dreamtime' as a time past, in fact not as a time at all. Time refers to past, present and future but the 'Dreamtime' is none of these.

The Dreamtime is the environment that the Aboriginal lived in, and it still exists today, all around us.

It is important to note that the Dreaming always also comprises the significance of place .

The Dreaming perhaps better the timeless concept of moving from 'dream' to reality which in itself is an act of creation and the basis of many Aboriginal creation myths.

None of the hundreds of Aboriginal languages contain a word for time.

australian aborigines3
Australian Aborigines…

Totemic exogamous clans called “Moieties”

Tribal Dialects but most of Australian language intelligeble

Father's + mother's + spouse's rights determined through the Law.

Birth rights to territory/kin.

kinship and marriage

“Cross-cousin" marriage

moieties (either matri- or patri-lineal)

Marriage sections: only 1 available for marriage

Patrilineal, matrilineal

Moiety: Either of two kinship groups based on unilateral descent that together make up a tribe or society.

australian society equal but hierarchical
Australian society equal but hierarchical?


Old men know most about Dreamtime (stories/enviro knowledge).

Female rituals for health.

No accumulation.

Reciprocity through kinship obligations

colonization of oceania
Colonization of Oceania

Europeans first contacted this area in 1521, when the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed on the Micronesian island of Guam (now a US colony)

The region was officially divided among colonial powers in the early 19th century.

The colonial powers included Japan, France, Britain, the US, and Germany


Similarly to other experiences around the world, colonial powers emphasized extractive enterprises like export agriculture and mining.

Indigenous people were often displaced from their land and were exposed to exotic diseases for which they had no immunity

the noble savage
The noble savage

A contrasting view of indigenous

people that survives today:

Does civilization actually improve the quality of human life?

Negative affects of European colonialism coupled with local experiences with the industrial revolution drew into question the benefits of civilization.

From a romanticists perspective “primitive” people lived a fuller more egalitarian life. They were untouched by the corrupting influence of civilization and industrialization.

indigenous people and citizenship rights
Indigenous people and citizenship rights

Until 1993 the Australian government viewed Aboriginal people to have no land rights because within their culture they had “no fixed abode, fields or flocks, nor internal hierarchical differentiation”

This belief translated into the displacement of Aboriginal people from their land to make room for European settlement.

Into the 1960s Aborigines had extremely limited citizenship rights (like the right to vote) and the government maintained an extremely paternalistic attitude toward Aborigines, like making it illegal for them to consume alcohol.

Between 1991 and 1996 the number of people in Australia claiming to be Aborigine rose by 33 percent.

This change reflects broader changes in attitudes about being indigenous.

People began to recognize that colonial attitudes were largely responsible for the low social standing and impoverishment of Aboriginal people.

Additionally, European and Aboriginal interaction and cohabitation became more common.

the resurgence of paternalism
The Resurgence of Paternalism

In 2006 a report was issued on the status of 60 Aboriginal Settlement Camps in Northern Territory Australia

The report found that alcohol, drugs, pornography, and unemployment were responsible for high levels of child abuse, child pornography, and a break-down of Aboriginal culture.

In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard labeled this a “national emergency” and has sent police and soldiers into Aboriginal settlement camps.

They are to enforce a ban on alcohol and pornography, order compulsory health checks on children under 16, and stopwelfare payments to parents whose children failed to attend school

assimilation systems

Assimilation Systems

American and Australian indigenous assimilation systems


When she was growing up, Rose recalls, "the agents were sending out police on horseback to locate children to enroll [in school].

  • The stories we heard frightened us; I guess some children were snatched up and hauled over there Boarding Schools in Comparative Perspective because the policemen came across them while they were out herding, hauling water, or doing other things for the family.
  • So we started to hide ourselves in different places whenever we saw strangers coming toward where we were living.”
  • Iris remembers a similar situation in her community: "[A Sister] would visit the mission every month or so in a shiny black car with two other officials and always leave with one or two of the fairer-skinned children.. . . [W]e wised up!
  • Each time that car pulled into the mission, our aunties, uncles and grandparents would warn the older children and they grabbed the little ones and ran into the scrub.

Although these two stories sound similar, they took place in almost opposite corners of the world in the early twentieth century.

  • Rose Mitchell, or Tall Woman, a Navajo girl, grew up in northeastern Arizona
  • Iris Burgoyne, a Mirning-Kokatha woman, came of age in South Australia.
t he colonization of australia
The Colonization of Australia
  • First, a quick timeline for Australian colonalization…
  • The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606.
  • Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships from a range of nations made contact.
first discovery
First “Discovery”
  • 1770: Englishman Lieutenant James Cook charted the Australian east coast in his ship HM Barque Endeavour.
  • Cook claimed the east coast under instruction from King George III of England on 22 August 1770 at Possession Island, naming eastern Australia 'New South Wales'.
first colony
First Colony
  • Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived at Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788.
  • The area was deemed unsuitable for settlement and the colony moved to Port Jackson on 26 January 1788.
first contact
First Contact?
  • Its unclear when first contact with indigenous peoples occured…
  • By 1790, relations between the explorers and the indigenous were generally hospitable and based on trading for food, water, axes, cloth and artifacts.
  • The first hostile contact in record is noted between 1790 and 1810.
  • Clans of the Eora group undertook a campaign of resistance against the English colonisers in a series of attacks.
colonial law
Colonial Law
  • Sir Richard Bourke issued a proclamation in 1835 which established the notion that the land belonged to no-one prior to the British crown taking possession.
  • A later Colonial Office proclamation stated that people found in possession of land without the authority of the government would be considered trespassers.
disease and death
Disease and Death…
  • In 1789, the second year of European settlement…a smallpox epidemic wiped out about half the Aborigines around Sydney.
  • It then spread well beyond the then limits of European settlement, including much of south eastern Australia, reappearing in 1829-1830, killing 40-60% of the Aboriginal population…
early relations
Early Relations…
  • Captain Hutton of Port Phillip District once told Chief Protector of Aborigines George Augustus Robinson that "if a member of a tribe offend, destroy the whole.“
  • Queensland’s Colonial Secretary A.H. Palmer wrote in 1884 "the nature of the blacks was so treacherous that they were only guided by fear – in fact it was only possible to rule…the Australian Aboriginal…by brute force"
indigenous suffrage
Indigenous Suffrage
  • Indigenous Suffrage was granted in Australia in November 1962, and in Western Australian state elections in the same year.
  • Aborigines in Queensland were given the vote in state elections in 1965.
  • There were never any racial qualifications to vote in the other four states.
indigenous suffrage1
Indigenous Suffrage
  • The 1967 federal referendum removed references to Aborigines from the Australian constitution, and prevented states from excluding Aborigines when the country does a count to determine electoral representation.
  • The referendum passed with a 90.2% majority, the largest affirmative vote in the history of Australia's referendums!!!!
  • The first Indigenous Australian to serve in the Australian Parliament was Neville Bonner, who took up a Senate place in 1971.
indigenous assimilation in the usa
Indigenous Assimilationin the USA
  • The United States attempted to transform Native American culture to European-American culture between the years of 1790-1920.
  • George Washington and Henry Knox (secretary of war) were first to propose the cultural transformation of Native Americans.
indigenous assimilation
Indigenous Assimilation
  • They formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process.
  • With increased waves of immigration from Europe, there was growing public support for education to encourage a standard set of cultural values and practices to be held in common by the majority of citizens.
  • Education was viewed as the primary method in the acculturation process for minorities.
thomas jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
  • Even Jefferson held these assumptions…although in his typically seculatarian way:
  • “Religious missionaries…must be the last step of the process. The following is what has been successful:
  • 1st, to raise cattle, etc., and thereby acquire a knowledge of the value of property;
  • 2d, arithmetic, to calculate that value;
  • 3d, writing, to keep accounts, and here they begin to enclose farms, and the men labor, the women spin and weave;
  • 4th, to read Aseop's Fables and Robinson Crusoe are their first delight. The Creeks and the Cherokees are advanced thus far, and the Cherokees are now instituting a regular government.
australian assimilation
Australian Assimilation
  • From the beginning of European settlement in Australia, indigenous children were removed from homes as a source of cheap labor.
  • Just as in the USA, Indigenous children were removed from their families in order to “inculcate European values and work habits in children, who would then be employed in service to the colonial settlers”
assilimation tactics in both countries
Assilimation Tactics in both Countries
  • Government response to the treatment of indigenous peoples by settlers was to reserve land for the exclusive use of Indigenous people and assign responsibility for their welfare to a Chief Protector or Protection Board…
australian assimilation1
Australian Assimilation
  • Missionaries often collaborated with the management of Indigenous communities.
  • As part of the civilization project, children were separated from their families in a number of ways to encourage them to become Christian.
australian assimilation2
Australian Assimilation
  • On reserves, children were housed in dormitories and contact with their families strictly limited.
  • In some areas, children were placed in training institutes.
  • In other areas, they were placed with non-indigenous homes.
  • In Queensland and Western Australia, the Chief Protector forced all Indigenous people onto government settlements and missions.
australian assimilation3
Australian Assimilation
  • In addition, children were removed from their mothers at about the age of four years and placed in dormitories away from their families.
  • They were then sent off the missions and settlements at about 14 to work.
  • Until the 1950s, it was common to exclude indigenous children from state schools.
  • In 1902, New South Wales formally excluded children as part of state policy.
australian assimilation4
Australian Assimilation
  • As you saw in the film, the government also targeted indigenous children of mixed-descent specifically for removal.
  • The rationale was that indigenous children with lighter skin color could be more easily assimilated into non-indigenous society…
a o neville
A.O. Neville
  • A.O. Neville, 1937 Conference on Australian Assimilation…
  • “That this conference believes that the destiny of the natives of aboriginal origin, but not of the full-blood, lies in their ultimate absorption by the people of the Commonwealth and it therefore recommends that all efforts be directed to that end. Are we going to have a population of 1,000,000 blacks in the Commonwealth, or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there ever were any aborigines in Australia?”
half caste
  • Many children of mixed descent were totally separated from their families when young and placed in segregated ‘training’ institutions before being sent out to work.
  • Between 1910-1970, between 1 in 3 to 1 in 10 Indigenous children were removed from their families.
  • By the mid 1930s, more than half of halfcaste children in the Northern Territory were housed in institutions run by the state.
mission systems
Mission Systems
  • Christian churches were at the forefront of this practice.
  • In the late 1940s, some 50 missions operated throughout Australia.
  • Similar patterns emerged: education focused on Christianization and manual labor rather than preparation for higher education.
  • Abuse was prevalent, and schools were poorly maintained.
  • Conditions were poor, with death rates often exceeding birthrates.
  • Disease, malnutrition and sexual violence were commonplace.
  • In Victoria, between 1881-1925, one third of Indigenous children died.
  • These systems continued into the 1970s.
modern research
Modern Research
  • A three-year longitudinal study undertaken in Melbourne during the mid-1980s revealed that compared to children who were not removed from their homes,
  • Those that were removed were less likely to have undertaken a post secondary education;
  • Twice as likely to report having been arrested by police and having been convicted of an offence; twice as likely to report current use of illicit substances;
  • And much more likely to report intravenous use of illicit substances.
present day research
Present Day Research
  • A national random survey of Indigenous people conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1994 found that removal did not increase the likelihood that Indigenous children would have higher incomes, be employed, or attain higher levels of education…
american systems
American Systems
  • During the 19 century and into the 20 century, American Indian children were taken from their homes to attend Christian and U.S. government-run boarding schools as state policy.
  • The boarding school system became more formalized under Grants’ Peace Policy of 1869/1870, which turned over the administration of Indian reservations to Christian denominations.
american systems1
American Systems
  • As part of this policy, Congress set aside funds to erect school facilities to be run by churches and missionary societies.
  • These facilities were a combination of day and boarding schools erected on Indian reservations.
american systems2
American Systems
  • In 1879, the first off-reservation boarding school, Carlisle, was founded by Richard Pratt.
  • He argued that as long as boarding schools were primarily situated on reservations,
  • 1) it was too easy for children to run away from school;
  • 2) the efforts to assimilate Indian children into boarding schools would be reversed when children when back home to their families during the summer.
  • He proposed a system where children would be taken far from their homes at an early age and not returned to their homes until they were young adults.

By 1909, there were over 25 off-reservation boarding schools, 157 on-reservation boarding schools, and 307 day schools in operation.

  • Thousands of Native children were forced into attending these schools.
  • In general, the thinking at the time was thus: either civilization or genocide…

Carl Schurz, at that time a former Commissioner of Indian Affairs, concluded that Native peoples had “this stern alternative: extermination or civilization.”

  • Henry Pancoast, a Philadelphia lawyer, advocated a similar policy in 1882: “We must either butcher them or civilize them, and what we do we must do quickly.”

Pratt’s rationale in his schools was “Kill the Indian in order to save the Man.”

  • “Transfer the savage-born infant to the surroundings of civilization, and he will grow to possess a civilized language and habit”

For the most part schools primarily prepared Native boys for manual labor or farming and Native girls for domestic work.

  • Children were also involuntarily leased out to white homes as menial labor during the summers rather than sent back to their homes.
  • As in Australia, physical and sexual abuse was endemic…

The rationale for choosing cultural rather than physical genocide was often economic.

  • Research at the time concluded that it would cost a million dollars to kill an Indian in warfare, whereas it cost $1,200 to school an Indian child for eight years.
  • Secretary of the Interior Henry Teller argued that it would cost $22 million to wage war against Indians over a ten-year period, but would cost less than a quarter of that amount to educate 30,000 children for a year.
  • Consequently, administrators of these schools ran them as inexpensively as possible.

A Lakota surviver…

  • “You weren’t allowed to speak Lakota. If children were caught speaking, they were punished. Well, some of them had their mouths washed out with soap. Some of their hands slapped with a ruler. One of the ladies tells about how they jerked her hair, jerked her by the hair to move her head back to say “no” and up and down to say “yes.” I never spoke the language again in public.”

Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse was rampant.

  • Children were often forced to beat other children:
  • “They used to send the boys through a whipping line. And we were not too far from there and the boys lined up, I don’t know how many, in a line, and they all wore leather belts. They had to take off their leather belts and as the boy ran through, they had to whip them.”

In 1987, the FBI found that one teacher at the BIA-run Hopi day school in Arizona, John Boone, had sexually abused over 142 boys, but the school’s principal had never investigated any allegations of abuse.

  • J.D. Todd taught at a BIA school on the Navajo Reservation before twelve children came forward with llegations of molestation.
  • Paul Price taught at a North Carolina BIA school between 1971-1985 before he was arrested for assaulting boys.
  • In all cases, the BIA supervisors ignored complaints from the parents before their arrests.

In one case, Terry Hester admitted on his job application that he has been arrested for child sexual abuse.

  • He was hired anyway at the Kaibito Boarding School on the Navajo Reservation, and was later convicted of sexual abuse against Navajo students.

Thousands of children died in these schools, through beatings, medical neglect, malnutrition, and suicide.

  • The cemetery at Haskell Indian School alone has 102 student graves, and at least 500 students died and were buried elsewhere.


  • “One of the girls, who was nine or ten, jumped out the sixth floor window. The older girls were saying the nuns and the priests would take advantage of her and finally one of them explained to us younger ones what it was. And she finally killed herself. That was the most overt case that I can remember. There have been others that I have made myself forget because that one was so awful.”

Boarding schools still operate today in the United States.

  • Some are operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, some are run by churches, and some are under tribal control.
  • Attendance is no longer mandatory, and Native children are not forced to be Christian in non-Christian boarding schools.
  • In schools that are under tribal control, many teach Native languages and emphasize Native cultural traditions.

Concerns remain about current boarding schools.

  • According to the 2001 U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs budget report, many reservation schools are structurally unsound and/or of insufficient size to educate incoming students.
  • Only 65.5% of Native peoples graduate from high school, compared with 75.2% for the U.S. population as a whole.
  • Only 9.3 percent of Native students graduate from college, less than half of the general population.

Sexual abuse in schools is still a concern.

  • The Bureau of Indian affairs did not issue a policy on reporting sexual abuse until 1987, and did not issue a policy to strengthen the background checks of potential teachers until 1989.

The Indian Child Protection Act passed in 1990 to provide a registry for sexual offenders in Indian country, mandate a reporting system, provide rigid guidelines for BIA and Indian Health Services for doing background checks on prospective employees, and provide education to parents, school officials and law enforcement on how to recognize sexual abuse.

  • This law was never sufficiently funded or implemented, and child sexual abuse rates are dramatically increasing in Indian country while they are remaining stable for the general population.

On December 6, 2004, Cindy Sohappy was found dead in a holding cell in Chemawa Boarding School (Oregon) where she had been placed after she became intoxicated.

  • She was supposed to be checked every fifteen minutes, but no one checked on her for over three hours.
  • At the point, she was found not breathing, and declared dead a few minutes later.
  • The US Attorney declined to charge the staff with involuntary manslaughter.

The school has been warned for the past fifteen years from federal health officials in Indian Health Services about the dangers of holding cells, but these warnings were ignored.

  • Particularly troubling was that she and other young women who had histories of sexual assault, abuse, and suicide attempts were put in these cells of solitary confinement.

The U.S. has made no attempt to address the legacies of boarding school abuses.

  • In 2007, the Jesuit Order of Roman Catholic priests says it will pay about $5 million to 16 people who were sexually abused by clergy while attending a boarding school on the Colville Indian reservation.
  • Those who claimed abuse attended the school in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Otherwise, there has been virtually no acknowledgment by the U.S. government of its complicity in boarding school abuses.
  • In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized in a motion unanimously passed by Parliament to all Aborigines for laws and policies that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss.”
  • This apology particularly singled out boarding school abuses and other policies of forced removal of indigenous children.
  • This apology was a reversal of the previous John Howard administration’s refusal to make an apology.