Building on Tainted Soil

The boarding schools which stamped out Native American culture

Building on Tainted Soil Augustine, Charmaine and Jim are some of the hundreds of thousands of Native American children placed in residential schools since the 1870s. Back then, the United States government waged a costly war with most indigenous tribes. In 1882, they calculated that it cost nearly $1 million to kill just one tribal member in battle, but just $1,200 for eight years of schooling. So they funded over 360 boarding schools which systematically destroyed native cultures and communities. The philosophy of the US Indian Boarding School policy was brutal: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.” Discover how three generations of boarding school survivors and their families are dealing with the fall-out of cultural erasure and reclaiming their culture. ‘No long hair, no language, song, no ceremony’, says Bryan. ‘Students killed themselves on the stairwell’, Charmain recalls.

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