Progressive Era: 1890–1920s: Native Americans Fight for Land, Identity, & Education
"…The new students entered into a regimented environment.…Their long hair was clipped to the skull, sometimes as part of a public ritual in which they renounced Indian origins. They were forbidden to speak native languages, often under threat of physical punishment."
- Peter Nabokov, ed. Native American Testimony discussing Indian boarding schools
Native American boarding schools were created across the U.S. in the 1800s to destroy the cultural heritage of Indian children and assimilate them into white culture. Reminiscent of earlier Native American uprisings against the similar goals of the Spanish missions, some Indian boarding schools in California were burned and teachers killed during the early 1890s.
Yet boarding schools were sometimes the only educational option, since segregation prevented Native Americans from attending most California public schools until the 1920s. For example, racist whites refused to let the students in this photograph attend a local public school, and they were forced to attend school elsewhere.