Beginning in the late nineteenth century, many American Indian children were sent away from their homes and families to attend government or church-operated boarding schools. Students were forced to cut their hair, give up traditional clothing and forbidden to speak their own language. The idea was to assimilate them completely into American culture. As the founder of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School Richard Henry Pratt said in 1892, “… all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."
Writer and newspaper publisher Tim Giago spent ten years at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission at Pine Ridge. Even though today the American Indian educational system has changed into one that is compatible with traditional culture and spirituality, Giago says the harmful effects of the boarding school experiment still linger.
Giago is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. He’s the founder of the Lakota Sun Times, now Indian Country Today, and Native Sun News. He was the founder of the Native American Journalists Association and has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame, the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame and into the Native American Journalists Hall of Fame. He wrote about his experiences at Holy Rosary Indian Mission in the book, Children Left Behind: The Dark Legacy of Indian Mission Boarding Schools.
Tim Giago joined Dakota Midday and discussed his memories of attending the boarding school and its impact on his school mates.