...The destruction of Native cultures has taken many forms throughout our country’s history, from Manifest Destiny to mining operations, from blankets laced with smallpox to aggressive policing. According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans are the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement. But the displacement and assimilation of Native children is just as much a part of that history—and it didn’t end with my great-great grandfather.
From the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, indigenous children across the country were placed in boarding schools meant to assimilate them into white culture, a practice that proliferated throughout the country. Abuse was common practice in these institutions. Richard Henry Pratt, who in 1879 founded one of the first such schools in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, phrased his goals quite bluntly: “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”