Remember how awful American Indian boarding Schools were? Arne Duncan doesn’t….
Tuesday in Arlington, VA, at the Youth Violence Prevention Summit, Education Secretary Arne Duncan proposed government-run public boarding schools which would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Duncan said, “One idea that I threw out … is this idea of public boarding schools. That’s a little bit of a different idea, a controversial idea. But the question is—do we have some children where there’s not a mom, there’s not a dad, there’s not a grandma, there’s just nobody at home? There’s just certain kids we should have 24/7 to really create a safe environment and give them a chance to be successful.”
For the government, it was a possible solution to the so-called Indian problem. For the tens of thousands of Indians who went to boarding schools, it’s largely remembered as a time of abuse and desecration of culture.
The government still operates a handful of off-reservation boarding schools, but funding is in decline. Now many American Indians are fighting to keep the schools open.
‘Kill the Indian … Save the Man’
The late performer and Indian activist Floyd Red Crow Westerman was haunted by his memories of boarding school. As a child, he left his reservation in South Dakota for the Wahpeton Indian Boarding School in North Dakota. Sixty years later, he still remembers watching his mother through the window as he left.