Book: The Rapid City Indian School 1898-1933

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"It did not occur to me at the time that I was going away to learn the ways of the white man. My idea was that I was leaving the reservation and going to stay away long enough to do some brave deed and then come home again alive. If I could just do that, then I knew my father would be so proud of me." ~Luther Standing Bear on going to the Carlisle Indian School in 1879 (My People the Sioux, 128)

The Rapid City Indian School was one of twenty-eight off-reservation boarding schools built and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to prepare American Indian children for assimilation into white society. From 1898 to 1933 the "School of the Hills" housed Northern Plains Indian children - including Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arapaho, Crow and Flathead - from elementary through middle grades. Critical changes in reservation life and Indian education occurred during this time and in 1933 as the era of coerced, assimilative schooling came to an end, the school closed. Scott Riney uses letters, archival materials and oral histories to provide a candid view of daily life at the school as seen by students, parents and school employees. Why did students go to the school? How well did it feed and clothe them? What did it try to teach? How did students respond? What functions, if any, did the school serve beyond its educational mission?


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