Injun-eering a New Indian: Assimilation in the Indian Boarding School Era

Pupils at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania (c. 1900)

In the late nineteenth century thousands of Native America children were separated from their families, language, land, and traditions and placed in government-run boarding schools

as part of a governmental effort to assimilate Native people into mainstream American culture. The schools offered academic instruction but students were also subjected to religious conversion and the adoption of the values, cultural norms, and social mores of conventional white society. In this program Laura Tohe (Diné/Navajo) speaks about the personal challenges of maintaining her identity despite the transformative fo rces placed upon her as a student in a government boarding school. She will also include a poetry reading from her book No Parole Today (Albuquerque: West End Press, 1999) featuring her personal recollections of the experience.

Presenter Laura Tohe is a poet, librettist, the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2019, and ASU Professor Emerita.  She is awarded the American Indian Festival of Words Writer’s Award for 2019.  She is currently writing a libretto for an opera on healing with composer Thierry Pecou, scheduled for production in Europe in 2019.

Laura Tohe