Document Type



The purpose of this research is to reexamine the legacy of federally-maintained boarding schools for American Indian children, particularly in regards to its strong connections to the emergence of Pan-Indian identity during the latter half of the twentieth century. The schools have long retained a reputation of one of the most poignant examples of cultural imperialism in history of the United States. The goal of this paper is not to deny the horrors associated with the American Indian boarding school system, but to emphasize the important and ultimately positive outcome of the development of an American Indian identity that transcends tribal identities. The boarding schools played a more nuanced role in the American Indian history and that they served as a catalyst in the emerging American Indian identity, among others. Using accounts from former students particularly associated with the American Indian Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, it is clear that the schools should be considered a crucial step towards many of the movements associated with Pan-Indianism. The story that emerges through this research is one of great irony-in attempting to crush American Indian culture, the schools actually provided a critical shared experience that resonated with people of varying tribes.