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Osage Indian School football team b&w film copy neg

[Detail] Osage Indian School football team b&w film copy neg

Overview | Preparation | Procedure | Evaluation

Lesson Overview

In the late 1800s, the United States supported an educational experiment that the government hoped would change the traditions and customs of American Indians. Special boarding schools were created in locations all over the United States with the purpose of "civilizing" American Indian youth . Thousands of Native American children were sent far from their homes to live in these schools and learn the ways of white culture. Many struggled with loneliness and fear away from their tribal homes and familiar customs. Some lost their lives to the influenza, tuberculosis, and measles outbreaks that spread quickly through the schools. Others thrived despite the hardships, formed lifelong friendships, and preserved their Indian identities.

Through photographs, letters, reports, interviews, and other primary documents, students explore the forced acculturation of American Indians through government-run boarding schools.


Students will be able to:

  • gain respect for differences in cultures;
  • analyze primary documents;
  • develop an understanding of issues related to the forced acculturation of American Indians into the American culture; and
  • examine different perspectives of the "Indian problem" in relation to the education of American Indian children.


Time Required

Two weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 6-8
  • 9-12


  • American Indian History


  • Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929


Niki Childers and Gayle Lawrence